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e-books – series

(for free circulation)

Salar Jung Museum


Tamarapu Sampath Kumaran

Southern News Bureau

59, 1st Main Road, Besant Nagar
Chennai – 600090 India
About the Author:

Mr T Sampath Kumaran is a freelance writer. He regularly contributes articles on

Management, Business, Ancient Temples, and Temple Architecture to many leading
Dailies and Magazines.

His articles are, popular in “The Young World section” of THE HINDU
His e-books and articles on Hindu deities, Festivals, Nature, and different cultures of
people around the world are educative and of special interest to the young.

He was associated in the production of two Documentary films on Nava Tirupathi

Temples, and Tirukkurungudi Temple in Tamilnadu.
These e-book series are being presented, since reference books seem to be losing
patronage among the younger generation. The internet, which has crept into study rooms,
is slowly showing the encyclopedia and reference books borrowed from libraries their
way out. Students consider the internet a worthy alternative.

Acknowledgement - Pictures and references : Courtesy – Museum authorities and

The English word “museum” comes from the Greek word “mouseion”, which denotes a
place or temple dedicated to Muses, the patron divinities in Greek mythology of the arts.

Museums enable people to explore collections for inspiration, learning and enjoyment.
There are tens of thousands of museums all over the world
Locations depicting ruins can also be considered as Museums. The oldest are The Indus
Valley Civilization- 3300–1700 BCE.

The term civilization also designates the complex of cultural elements that first appeared
in human history between 8,000 and 6,000 years ago. At that time, on the basis of
agriculture, stock-raising, and metallurgy, intensive occupational specialization began to
appear in the river valleys. Such characteristics originally emerged in several different

parts of the prehistoric world: Mesopotamia, Egypt, China, India, central Asia. The
Chinese Shrines, and the Egyptian monuments as well the preserved accounts of drawing
written on cave walls by cave men and natives and the remains in Pompeii, where the
people that died there due to volcanic eruptions are frozen and viewed by the public, like
the tombs of the mummies, are other examples.
Like any institution dedicated to the memorialization of the past, museums play a
substantial role in the construction of ideologies and identities, which is accomplished
through a variety of means, in which the past is put on public display.
The modern museums are collections of the findings of other people’s civilizations.
Of the modern museums the British Museum in London established in 1753 with the
acquisition of Sir Hans Sloane’s collection of antiquities and art is claimed to be the
oldest museum in the world. It contains over four million exhibits, which include
archeological items, prints, drawings, natural history artifacts, coins, sculptures and other
treasures. Museums can be a great source of information about cultures and history.
Museums cover the knowledge of History and its relevance to the present and future.
Some cover specialized curatorial aspects of history or a particular locality; others are
more general. Such museums contain a wide range of objects, including documents,
artifacts of all kinds, art, archaeological objects.

Museums collect and care for objects of scientific, artistic, or historical importance and
make them available for public viewing through exhibits that may be permanent or
temporary. Most large museums are located in major cities throughout the world and
more local ones exist in smaller cities, towns and even the countryside. A museum
normally houses a core collection of important selected objects in its field.

The first publicly owned museum in Europe was the Amerbach-Cabinet in Basel,
originally a private collection sold to the city in 1661 and public since 1671 – now Kunst
museum Basel.

There are many types of museums, from very large collections in major cities, covering
many of the categories of fine arts, applied arts, crafts, archaeology, anthropology and
ethonology, history, cultural history, military history, science, technology. These artifacts
have been carefully excavated and transported, often thousands of miles, without damage.

Besides, there are other categories which include children’s museums, natural history,
numismatics, botanical and zoological gardens and philately.

An Art museum, also known as an art gallery, is a space for the exhibition of art, usually
visual art, paintings, illustrations and sculptures. Collections of drawings and the old
master prints are often not displayed on the walls, but kept in a print room. There may be
collections of applied art, including ceramics, metalwork, furniture, artist’s books and
other types of object.

Science museums and technology centers revolve around scientific marvels and their
history. To explain complicated inventions, a combination of demonstrations, interactive
programs and thought provoking media are used. Some museums have exhibits on topics
such as Computers, Aviation, Railway museums, physics, astronomy and the animal

Science museums, in particular may consist of planetarium or large theatres usually built
around a dome. Museums may have IMAX feature films, which may provide 3-D
viewing or high quality pictures. As a result IMAX content provides a more immersive
experience for people of all ages.

Although zoos are not often thought of as museums, they are considered "living
museums". They exist for the same purpose as other museums: to educate, inspire action,
Museums in India
India has one of the richest treasures as far as precious artifacts and antiques are
concerned. The country is the birthplace of two of the oldest civilizations, namely,
Harappa and Mohenjo daro as well as several ancient dynasties having one of the largest
and richest collections of invaluable relics, excavated remains and other artifacts that
belong to the earliest royal families and rulers. In order to preserve these priceless
possessions, there are several museums that exist throughout the country. The Museums
in India are considered as preservers of national heritage.
Though there are numerous museums in India, the leading museums are Salar Jung
museum in Hyderabad, National Museum and Birla House in New Delhi, the Bombay
Natural History Society and Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj museum in Mumbai and
Visvesvaraya Industrial and Technological Museum in Bangalore.
The Salarjung museum of India
This is one of the most popular museums in India. This is mainly due to the array of
artifacts that the museum houses. It consists of collection of jewellery, jade, textiles,
weapons and other handicrafts. The museum has one of the best collections of finely
embroidered fabrics, carved pieces, miniatures and paintings.

Nawab Salar Jung II, prime minister of the Nizam dynasty and his grandfather are
absorbed of beautiful things and have started collecting more than 43.000 valuable items
and 50.000 books from all over the world. It is believed that the present collection
constitutes only half of the original art wealth amassed by Salar Jung III. His employees
siphoned off part of it, since Salar Jung was a bachelor and depended upon his staff to
keep a vigil. Some more art pieces were lost or stolen during the shifting of the museum
from Dewan Devdi to the present location in the Hyderabad City.
During the colonial period a lot of the art wealth of the country was shipped to the
metropolitan countries and the Salar Jungs are credited with bringing back some of it to
enrich the collection. Salarjung museum represents, in popular belief, the largest one-man
collections of the world. They reflect the stunning range of time and place of these
treasures, some of them belonging to different civilisations and dating back to the
first century and retrieved from nearly every nook and corner of the world. This great
treasure trove of the art heritage of India, Asia, Middle East and Europe, which includes
Persian carpets, Chinese porcelain, Japanese lacquer ware, sculpture, invaluable
collections of jade, bronzes, enamelware, paintings, wood and inlay work from Tibet,
Nepal and Thailand, furniture from Egypt, paintings etc. is a tribute to man's eternal quest
for beauty and elegance, particularly India's remarkable cultural diversity and heritage.

There are Aurangzeb's sword, daggers belonging to empress Noor Jehan, emperors
Jehangir and Shah Jehan, the turbans and chair of Tippu Sultan,

An Egyptian Mummy, a rare specimen is found in this museum.

Among the sculptures stands out the world famous statue of Veiled Rebecca, which was
sculpted in an ingenious way such that both the front and the back of the statue look alike
as can be seen from a mirror placed there and her beautiful face hazily visible through a
marble but gossamer veil., making us to mistake it for a gorgeous woman draped in a wet

Equally captivating is a double-figure wood sculpture done by G.H. Benzoni, an Italian

sculptor, in 1876. It stands before a mirror and shows the facade of a nonchalant
Mephistopheles and the image of a demure Margareta in the mirror.
In the clock room a bewildering variety and array of clocks are exhibited, and
interestingly there are miniature clocks which need a magnifying glass to look at. A
musical clock bought from Cook and Kelvy of England, a virtual mechanical marvel, in
which every hour, a timekeeper emerges from the upper deck of the clock to strike a gong
as many times as it is the hour of the day. Visitors throng every hour to watch the same.

The jade room or gallery hosting items articulating the delicateness and elegance of jade,
one can see a jade wine bowl and the wine cups made of jade with leaf and flower motifs.
Jade with precious stones, studded and carved into handles for small daggers are also
exhibited. The jade collection also includes a jade stand of Altamash, fruit knife of
Mughal empress Noorjehan; hunting knife of emperor Jehangir; and inscribed archery
ring of Emperor Shah Jehan done in dark green jade. Several extraordinary displays are
the dressing table that belonged to Marie-Antoinette.

The manuscript section contains rare and ancient Arabic Urdu and Persian manuscripts,
including a handwritten miniature Quran.
The textile gallery consists of Indian textile art in cotton, silk and wool, dominated by a
collection of brocades woven with silver and gold thread and the world-famous Kashmiri
shawls. Printed textiles from Japan and China are a specialty.
The Ivory section contains intricately carved items of chess sets, statuettes, painted
objects done by using the cutaway technique, where the ivory is first carved with a lacy
surface design. The space behind it is cut away till the design shows up like a screen. And
further carving continues at deeper levels of the ivory. The object then acquires a trellis-
like case and the forms within forms are created out of a single piece of ivory.
Buddhist, Jain and Hindu sculptures of the 2nd or 3rd century A.D and bronze carvings
dating back to later Pallava and Chola periods are also exhibited.

The portraits of the Salar Jung, the Nizams of the Hyderabad city are found in the
Founder's Gallery. We are indebted to Salar Jung family for preserving such marvelous
collections for the benefit of the future generation