The Salar Jung Museum
Salar Jung Museum is an art museum located at Darushifa, on the southern bank of the Musi river in the city of Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, India. It is one of the three National Museums of India. It has a collection of sculptures, paintings, carvings, textiles, manuscripts, ceramics, metallic artefacts, carpets, clocks, and furniture from Japan, China, Burma, Nepal, India, Persia, Egypt, Europe, and North America. The museum's collection was sourced from the property of the Salar Jung family.
The Salar Jung Museum was established in 1951. The major portion of the collection of the museum was acquired by Mir Yousuf Ali Khan, popularly known as Salar Jung III..
In the absence of any direct descendants of Salar Jung III, the Government of India appointed a Committee to administer the Salar Jung Estate. Later on with the idea of perpetuating his name, the Salar Jung Museum was brought into existence on 16th December, 1951 in DiwanDeodi, the residential palace of Salar Jung III and opened to the public by PanditJawarharlal Nehru, the then Prime Minister of India.
In 1958, the Government of India took over the museum through a compromise deed. Till 1958 this museum was administered by the Salar Jung Estate Committee.
Thereafter the Museum continued to be administered by the Ministry of Scientific Research and Cultural Affairs, Government of India till 1961. In 1961, through an Act of Parliament, the Salar Jung Museum along with its library was declared as an “Institution of National Importance.
The administration of the museum was transferred to an Autonomous Board, having the Governor of A.P. as its Chairman. The museum was transferred to its present building in the year 1968.
The family of SalarJungs had assumed such great importance that five of its family members served as Prime Ministers to the Nizams, who were the erstwhile rulers of Hyderabad.
Mir Turab Ali Khan - Salar Jung I, was awarded the title of Salar Jung Bahadur at the age of 13 years. At the age of 24 years he was appointed as Prime Minister by the then Nizam, Nasir-ud- Daulah. He was a great administrator, known for his reforms and also a connoisseur of art. He died in the year 1882.
His eldest son, Mir Laiq Ali Khan was appointed as first Secretary to the Council of Regency and later on as a member of the Council of State. He was appointed as Prime Minister in 1884 A.D. by the then Nizam, Mir Mehboob Ali Khan.
He spent most of his time in continuing the social reforms which were discontinued by his father Mir Turab Ali Khan, Salar Jung I. When he was only 26 years old he died at Poona, leaving behind an infant of 24 days, AbulQasim Mir Yousuf Ali Khan.
When Mir Yousuf Ali Khan became 10 years old, the then Nizam bestowed upon him the family title of Salar Jung Bahadur and restored his Mansab and other titles.
Mir Osman Ali Khan, Nizam VII, selected Mir Yousuf Ali Khan, Salar Jung III as his Prime Minister. Due to some difference of opinion, Salar Jung III relinquished the post of Prime Minister in November 1914. Thereafter his entire life he devoted in enriching his treasures of art.
Mir Yousuf Ali Khan was not only a collector of antiques but he also patronized poets, writers and artists, encouraging literary and cultural activities. He continued with his zeal as an art connoisseur till the very end of his life enriching his art collections and died as a bachelor on 2nd March,1949 at the age of 60.
The Indian historical collections
- Aurangzebs sword.
- Jade crafted daggers of, Emperor Jehangir, Noorjahan and Shah Jehan.
- A wardrobe of Tipu Sultan and
- A tiffin box made of gold and diamond
The marvellous expose unveils the art heritage of India, Asia, Middle East and Europe and 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 etc. There are Aurangzeb's sword, daggers belonging to empress Noor Jehan, emperors Jehangir and Shah Jehan, the turbans and chair of Tippu Sultan, furniture from Egypt, paintings etc. Among the sculptures stands out the world famous statue of Veiled Rebecca, her beautiful face hazily visible through; hold your breath, a marble but gossamer veil. The visitor may mistake it for a gorgeous woman draped in a wet garment. 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 Margaretta in the mirror.
The objects on display in the children’s section of the museum are a testimony to the vast range of interest and diverse nature of Salar Jung III, in collecting objects. The objects housed in the section provide informal education to the children apart from providing delight to them.
Salar Jung Museum is an institutional member of various historical and museological organizations, like ICOM-INC, Museums Association of India etc. The museum organizes temporary exhibitions periodically on various themes and efforts are being made to make them more aesthetic, educative and informative. It is also maintaining a ‘Mobile Exhibition Van’ arranging exhibits on different themes on the museum’s collections and the cultural heritage of India to present the museum at the doorstep of schools, villages and other public places as part of Museum Education.
The museum publishes guide-Books, brochures, research Journals, and books on selected subjects in English, Hindi and Urdu languages.
Seminars and workshops are being organized on special occasions such as – Birthday celebrations of Salar Jung III, Museum Week, Childrens Week etc., as part of its educational activities.
During the Museum Week (8th –14th January) the visitors are allowed on 50% concession on entrance fee. Rangoli Competition for women of different age groups are being conducted every year to maintain the traditional culture.
During the Children’s Week (from14th to 20th November) students and children are allowed free entry to the Museum. Competitions are also conducted on different aspects amongst the school-children of different age groups- such as elocution, essay writing, drawing etc. in English, Hindi, Telugu and Urdu languages.
The Salar Jung Museum is also possessing a huge library consisting of nearly sixty thousand books, manuscripts, journals etc., and it is a monument to the love of learning of the Salar Jung family.
As part of the re-organization of museum, two huge buildings were constructed on either of side of the main building. Plans are on afoot to arrange the galleries on a wide range like all the objects belonging to European countries to be housed in the Western Block and all the objects of East and Far East countries are to be housed in the Eastern Block. The oriental and Indian objects will be housed in the present main building.
As one of the museums of “National importance” in India, the Salar Jung Museum is meant to function as a cultural centre through its exhibits, research projects and planned activities.
there are 38 galleries in the Museum in three blocks.
(1) Indian Block (27 galleries)
(2)Western Block (7 galleries)
(3) Eastern Block (4 galleries)
in which nearly 13,654 objects are on display.
The collections of the Salar Jung Museum are the mirrors of the past human environment, ranging from 2nd century B.C to early 20th century A.D of different cultures such as Islamic Greek, Roman, Hindu, Jain, , Christian and Buddhist of various countries and of various materials.
Arabic, Persian Manuscripts
The Arabic and Persian manuscripts are the most valuable collection of the museum. The earliest manuscript on display is a Holy Quran written on parchment in Kufic script and is datable to 9th century A.D. Besides, a number of Holy Qurans both illuminated and embellished adorn the gallery. The other noteworthy manuscripts on display are: the Quartrain of Omar Khayyam written from Sultan Hussain of Persia and autographed by princess Jehanara Begum, the favourite daughter of Shah Jehan, an illuminated Holy Quran, Shah-nama by Firadausi written by Mohd-b-Abdul Rahman Sammarqandi ( 1424 A.D. ) etc.
Jade is a semi precious stone, varies in colour from almost pure white, emerald green to a dark black green. The term jade includes Nephrite and Jadeite. The collection includes wine cups (plain and studded with precious stones) plates, cups, book stands belt buckles, arm rests, flywhisk handles and hair pins, etc. Most of the Indian jade objects are dated from17th to 19th centuries based on style, decoration and polish and can be said that they were carved during Mughal and later Mughal period.
A jade book-stand having the name of Shamsuddin Iltamish, an archer ring inscribed with the legend “Sahib-e-Kuran-i-Sani” - title of the Mughal Emperor Shahjahan are masterpieces. A dagger and a fruit knife made of jade decorated with precious stones are said to belong to Jehangir and Noorjehan respectively. Mughal period jade boxes in the collection shaped with exquisite skill depict creeper designs in conventional flower motifs inlaid with precious stones are indeed a proud possession of the museum.
The word Bidri took its name from the city of Bidar situated about 120 kilometers north-west of Hyderabad. There are two techniques in use in preparing Bidri objects, namely Tahnashin and Zarbaland. In Tahnashin (deeply cut work), the designs are engraved deeply and the gold or silver pieces are laid in the trenches. In the Zarbaland technique the design is raised. The Bidri work was not confined to Bidar but was also practised at Hyderabad, Lucknow, Pune and to a limited extent in Kashmir also. The design is usually inlaid with silver foils. The bright silver design on a contrasting black body creates excellent effect. The old Bidri ware in the museum is represented by huqqa bottoms, pandans, trays, surahis, aftabas, vases, etc.
Middle East is represented through its art objects from Persia, Syria and Egypt covering diverse media like carpets, paper (manuscripts), ceramics, glass, metal, furniture, lacquer ware etc. These objects give us a fair idea of the artistic achievements of the craftsmen of these regions in a fitting manner.
Egyptian & Syrian Art
Though the major part of the Egyptian art objects on display are only copies made after the originals from the important tombs of the Egyptian kings, yet the visitor can have an idea of the art traditions and the religious beliefs of ancient Egypt through these objects. The art objects consist of furniture, appliqué work and ivory carvings. The centre of attraction is the superb replica of Tutankhamen throne datable to1340 B.C., the original of which is in the Cairo Museum in Egypt. Though a copy made in 20thcentury, this throne easily acquaint visitors with the excellent workmanship of the original. The Syrian art objects comprise of a good number of furniture items with magnificent workmanship inlayed with mother of pearl. A majority of them are inscribed.
A bewildering variety and array of clocks greets the visitor in the clock room. There are ancient Sandiaers in the form of obelisks to huge and modern clocks of the twentieth century. Others in the range vary from miniature clocks which need a magnifying glass to imbibe their beauty and complexity to stately grandfather clocks from as far away as France, Germany, Italy, Switzerland and Britain. A visual delight is the musical clock Salar Jung bought from Cook and Kelvy of England. Every hour, a timekeeper emerges from the upper deck of the clock to strike a gong as many times as it is the hours of the day.
Oil and water paintings form an important part of the European collections. Technically and aesthetically the works on display are excellent examples of the craft. They are also reflections of the public taste and artistic interest of the period. Though the major group on display is of mainly of British 19th century paintings, the gallery also shows examples of traditional French school, beautiful Italian landscapes and the picturesque scenes that the Munich painters had made popular. Cooper’s Cattle in Repose and four other works exhibited in the Museum, show fine views of English pastoral scene punctuated by life-like sheep and cows. Italian pictures represented in the Museum include the works of Canaletto, Hayez, Blass, Marc Aldine, Diziani, Matteini and a few lesser known painters. Canalettos oil painting Piazza San Marco exhibited in the Salar Jung Museum is a delightful piece, combining beautiful architecture, pleasing forms, pleasant natural scenery and excellent perspective. Hayezs sweet composition Soap Bubbles showing a boy blowing bubbles which are afloat in the air affords much delight to the visitors.
France (Double Statue)
Mephistopheles and Margaretta
19 Century AD.
the skillfull use of a single block of hard Brownish Wood (Sycanmore, hare-wood family) For Carving double figures of the mysterious kind of demon,Mephistopheles and margarette is a testimony to the command of the sculptor over this medium and an art creation.the french sculptor whose name is UN-known,Symbolically depicted good(female) and the Evil(male) in this life-size Double-Statue. the imaginary of these two characters has been taken from the famous German drama. Dr Faust's by Goethe(AD. 1808)
Timings:10a.m. to 5pm.(Closed on Fridays)
Entry Fee: Rs. 10 for Indian Nationals, Rs. 150 for Foreign Nationals
Contact: 91 040 24576443