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Globular Sailabchi (Wash basin)

Title​​​: Globular Sailabchi (Wash basin) Medium​​: Bidriware Dimensions​​: Ht. 17.8; Dia. (rim): 30.9 cm. ​​​Dia. (base): 10.9 cm. Period/ Provenance​: 19th CE; Hyderabad Acc. No. ​​: 57.87/15

A very significant contribution, other than in the field of paintings made by Persian and near-east art in the Indian cultural sphere is the application of exquisite decorations on articles of daily use. A major item in the latter category is Bidari or Bidriware which was flourished around 17th-18th CE in and around Bidar area, Hyderabad (presently bidar is in Karnataka state) and later reached its greatest perfection and beauty. Like other Persian utensils of metal with scripts and designs produced by inlaying gold and silver, this particular type of work was probably developed by experimenting with various alloys to guarantee brilliance by contrast. The basic material of Bidriware is an alloy of zinc, copper and lead; other than metals like iron or copper, which were generally used by the Persian craftsmen for inlay work. This particular combination of zinc and copper does not rust or corrode, but is brittle and liable to break, if dropped. The mixture of zinc and copper is in the ratio of 16:1. The utility of copper is mainly to allow zinc to take a better polish. There are usually five phases in the production- casting, polishing, engraving, inlaying and blackening the alloy. Sailabchi, a kind of particular vessel which was very popular both in the zenana (females) and in the gentlemen’s sitting room for washing the hands. This globular sailabchi (wash basin) is with a ring base, bulbous body having a circular moulding over the constricted neck and a shallow basin on top having a large cavity in the centre for receiving water, perforated detachable lid depicting floral motifs with a knob in the centre. The upper surface of the basin is divided into five concentric bands having hemispherical motif in the first and fifth band, white cross against a dark rectangle in the second and fourth band, while nine ovals shaped medallions enclosing floral plants, amidst floral plants motif in the third large band. The lower part of the basin (globular shaped) is divided into seven bands. The first one from the base has drop like design, the second one has a zig-zag line shape design, third and fifth have white cross against a dark square, the fourth one has oval shaped medallions enclosing floral plants same as on the third large band on the upper part of the rim; sixth and seventh have some geometrical decoration. The decoration is done in silver with tehnishan (inlay of sheet), aftabi (cut out designs in over laid metal sheet) and tarkashi (inlay of wire) techniques.

Thousand-Armed Avalokiteshvara (Mandala of Avalokiteshvara)

Thousand-Armed Avalokiteshvara (Mandala of Avalokiteshvara) Dunhuang, 8th – 10th century CE Painting on silk 189 x 143 cm Acc. No. Ch. xxviii 006

Mandala or circle, is a spiritual and ritual symbol in Hinduism and Buddhism, representing the universe. The circular designs symbolizes the idea that life is never ending and everything is connected. This large rectangular banner is showing the ‘Mandala of Avalokiteshvara’. In the center of an illustrious circle, there is a flamboyant aureole with a flaming border and thousands of eyes. The Thousand Arms Avalokiteśvara is seated in Vajrasana on a multi-colored lotus seat in the middle. His forehead has a half-closed third eye and the front two arms are in Anjali Mudra (Namashkar) with different arms holding many other divine objects. On his tiara Amitabh is depicted. In the left corner of the banner is decorated with the moon Bodhisattva. He is sitting in Vajrasana on the lotus with five gooses in the front. He is holding lotus buds in both of his hands. Behind his head a golden halo has been illustrated. On the right corner of the banner is decorated with the Sun Bodhisattva. He is sitting in Vajrasana on the lotus with five horses in the front. He is holding lotus buds in both of his hands. Behind his head a golden halo has been illustrated. In the right middle corner of the banner, Rsi Vasu is depicted sitting on the lotus, with dark golden halo behind his head. In the left side middle corner of the banner, Sridevi is depicted sitting on the lotus, with dark golden halo behind her head. She is offering flowers to Thousand Arms Avalokiteshvara. On the beautiful green Kaleen (Carpet) with red border, two small figures Sun and moon are supporting an illustrious circle ed with purple clouds in which Thousand arms Avalokiteshvara is shown. In bottom is the Blue-faced Vajra Kundalin and to the left is fiery-headed Ucchusma. The two Naga Kings Nanda and Upananda uphold the stem of the lotus that s the seat of Avalokiteshvara. The painting depicts both Indian and Chinese elements concerning facial features, drapery and floral representations.


Rajasthan; Late 17th-Early 18th Century C.E Metal L- 49 cm Acc. No. 96.336/1

This is a Pesh Qabz dagger, (pesh- front, qabz- grip) meaning foregrip. Straight bladed daggers such as Pesh Qabz have acutely tapering blades. It is originally from Persia and became popular in India during the Mughal period. This is a single-edged pointed dagger with a broad T-rib along the straight back blade. The dagger is made of a watered steel blade that has a thickened point. The blade has a cavity at the centre on either side which is decorated with foliage designs damascened in gold. The ricasso of the blade is decorated with floral designs on either side and has an inscription on one side. The hilt is made of two steel plates that are hinged together and open at the tang (top) of the hilt. The tang acts as a screw to fasten the hilt. The hilt is lavishly damascened in gold with floral designs. The grip of the hilt depicts the hunting of tigers on either side.

Bodisattva Maitreya in Abhaya Mudra

Acc. No. 59.530/1 Kushan, 2nd century C.E Ahichchhatra, Uttar Pradesh. Sandstone H: 76, W: 26, Dep: 14 cms.

The early centuries of Christian era witnessed the growth and development of Kushan empire which extended from Bihar in India to Central Asia. It was under the Kushans that the earliest known representational images of the Buddha were created. The creation of Buddhist sculpture was focused in two regions of the Kushan Empire, Gandhara and Mathura, each producing a distinctive sculptural . This image reproduced here was created in Mathura region. Mathura sculpture is created from Fatehpur Sikri sandstone, a distinctive stone with a red hue, spotted and streaked with cream-colored imperfections for which it is highly valued. This sculpture depicts the Bodhisattva Maitreya. Maitreya is the Buddha of the future, who will be born to teach enlightenment in the next age. Bodhisattvas are often represented as princely figures, alluding to the historical Buddha’s life as a prince before he renounced his kingdom, and distinguishing them from the Buddha who is attired as a mendicant monk. The Bodhisattva Maitreya is identified here by the small flask he holds in his left hand, filled with a liquid of immortality. And the right hand is held in Abhaya Mudra. The hair is arranged in small spiral curls. He wears a necklace and a Phalakahara composed of strands and clasps. A scarf draped from the left shoulder passes round the right leg below the knee and is carried up the center of the back. He also wears a yajnopavita, ear-rings, armlets and bracelets. The lower garment is secured about the waist by a katisutra (girdle) tied in a ribbon shape to the right side. The ends of the cloth hang between the legs in loose folds. There is a circular nimbus around the head. An inscription on the base in front and a pointed tenon at bottom.


Chordophone (Bowed String Instrument) 80.919/a&b Circa 19th Century C.E Metal finger board, gourd resonator Kashmir a. Lt. 85 cm; b. Lt. 111 cm (approx.)

This unique bowed string instrument, called Saaz-e-Kashmir, is one the finest examples of the Kashmiri classical music tradition. It is a chordophone or string instrument which is typical of Kashmir and it has not undergone any major modifications over time. The Saaz-e-Kashmir has a rounded resonator of wood with a bow-shaped striker. It has a medium-length, polished cylindrical fingerboard and three main gut strings and fourteen sympathetic metal strings. There are large and small pegs for the tightening of strings. The resonator is elaborately decorated with ivory ornamentation. The third-string is not touched with the bow and the metal strings on the other side are tied up. The ones on the right are tuned from Pancham to Madhyam and those on the left are tuned from Shadja to Nishad of the middle octave. The instrument is similar to the Kamaicha of Rajasthan, the Khamanche of Iran and the Gheechak used in many Central Asian countries. The Saaz-e-Kashmir provides the drone of a muqam, which is a melody or raga used in the Sufiana Kalam of Kashmir. It is mostly played along with the Santoor, Wasool, Tabla and Sitar. Sufiana Kalam is a soft, serene and transcendental of music which is based on compositions by Sufi mystics. At present, the art of playing the Saaz-e-Kashmir is on the decline with very few traditional practitioners associated with this art.


Shoe, 7th-8th Century C.E Astana (erstwhile Central Asia), Textile and Paper

This baby shoe (7th-8th C.) which belongs to Astana, from the collection of Central Asia Antiquity Department at National Museum. The shoe was made of textile and paper. It was in a very dilapidated condition like stains; accumulation of dust and dirt, the fabric was very brittle and missing at several places, also separated from the base due to weak and broken stitches. The original shape of shoe was distort might be due to ageing. The shoe was undergone mechanical and solvent cleaning and consolidation to strengthen the fabric. The treatment imparted the stability to the materials used in the shoe to retain its shape/ and ready to be displayed.

Seated Male in Namaskar Pose

Title: Seated Male in Namaskar Pose Acc. No.: 3072/388 Date: circa 2500 BCE Material: Terracotta Finding place: Harappa Dimensions (H x W x D) : 5 X 4 X 2 cm

This excavated cream colour hand modelled male nude figurine was found at Harappa. The male is seated in a posture similar to yogic posture with legs outstretched and knees slightly raised. The head, mouth and nose were pinched and the two eyes were marked by a round pellet. Fingers are not shown, but two hands are clasped which appears to be ‘namaskar’ pose. Some parts of the feet are missing. The figurine is thin and flat but the triangular forehead is pinched at two sides. This ageless type of figurine shows typical Harappan of manufacturing technique.

Head of Goddess Durga

82.338, 18th Century C.E Bronze, Orissa, 23x13x34 cm

Durga is a principal Goddess, also known as Devi & Shakti in Hinduism. The word Durga means ‘beyond defeat’. She is associated with protection, strength, motherhood, destruction and wars. Durga was created for the slaying of the Mahisasura for which she received features from every god. Goddess Durga is also worshipped as ten Mahavidyas named Kali, Tara, Tripura Sundari, Bhubaneshwari, Bhairavi, Chhinamasta, Dhumavati, Bagalamukhi, Matangi and Kamala. Durga, through all her appearance, encompasses the essence of salvation and sacrifice. This beautiful bust of the Goddess Durga is made of bronze with intricate carvings. She is shown with a beautiful smiling face wearing a three-tiered elaborated headdress full of unique designs that make a stunning crown, two beautiful round earrings and a necklace of three strings. Durga is depicted with three eyes. Her two eyes are shown beautifully with arched eyebrows and the third eye is depicted vertically on the forehead. Three eyes signify sun, moon and fire beside the past, present, and future. It also means that she is eternal and will always exist.


Gopaashtami Rajasthan, Nathdwara, Late 19th century C.E Natural Color on textile 108 x 122 inch Acc. No. 87.131/1

Pichhwai painting is large devotional Hindu painted pictures, normally on the cloth, which portrays Lord Krishna. The Sanskrit root of the word Pichhwai depicts pich (behind) and wai (hanging). It is a traditional art that emerged from the 17th century at the Nathdwara temple in Rajasthan. Pichhwai painting is typically hung behind the idol of the deity in local shrines. It is a painting which is elaborated hand-painted artworks to celebrate the different moods and expressions of Lord Krishna. The painting depicts the occasion of Gopasthami (the festival of cattle). Lord Krishna wearing saffron attire and adorned with diamonds, summons them with his melodic flute music, standing on the lotus pedestal surrounded by cows that are decorated with peacock plumes for the festival.

Jahangir Zodiac Rupee (Leo)

Title – Jahangir Zodiac Rupee (Leo) Accession No. – 59.152/3411 Dynasty – Mughal Ruler – Nuruddin Jahangir Period – 1014-1037 A.H = 1605-1628 C.E. Metal – Silver Denomination – Zodiac Rupee Mint – Ahmedabad Dimension – Dia: 2.1 cm

The Mughal Coinage reached its zenith during the period of Jahangir and this passion for coinage is recorded in his memoir Tuzk-i-Jahangiri. Emperor Jahangir issued a series of magnificent coins representing the twelve zodiac signs. In these series of coins, the name of the month that was minted in the reverse of the coin was replaced with the symbol of the corresponding constellation of the month. This resulted in a landmark aesthetic innovation in the Indian Coinage. This silver Zodiac Rupee represents the constellation ‘Leo’ which corresponds to the month of August. Inscription and depiction: Obverse – In centre: Leo sign, Lion standing to left, sanh 13 julus Reverse – In centre: Zar-i-Ahmedabad ra dad Zewar Jahangir Shah-i-Shahanshah Akbar 1027 AH

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