Special Exhibitions ( Past Exhibition )

Jewels of India: The Nizam's Jewellery Collection

Start Date: 18-02-2019  End Date: 31-05-2019    Ground Floor, National Museum

The Nizams' Jewellery is one of largest and rich collection of Jewels that was purchased in 1995 by the Government of India at a cost of Rs. 218 Crore. The collection had remained in the custody of "H.E.H. Nizam Jewellery Trust" and "H.E.H. Nizam Supplemental Jewellery Trust" formed by the last Nizam Mir Osman Ali Khan in 1951-1952 to safe-guard the ancestral wealth of the family. The trustees kept this treasure of great historical value in the vaults of Hong Kong Bank. When the Government of India acquired this collection in 1995, after a prolonged legal battle, it was shifted to the vaults of Reserve Bank of India (RBI), Mumbai, where it remained till 29th June 2001. It was brought and kept in the vaults of the RBI, New Delhi, for safety and has now been shifted to the National Museum for a befitting display, the preparations of which are complete from all points of view including round-the-clock security.

Superb and rare, as the collection comprising 173 precious jewels and jewellery items of exquisite workmanship is, it covers a period ranging from 18th century to the early 20th century. The collection in-dudes, sarpeches, necklaces, belts and buckles, pairs of bracelets and bangles, earrings, armlets, toe rings, finger rings, pocket watch and watch chains, but-tons and cufflinks, etc. While the diamonds from the celebrated mines of Golconda and Colombian emeralds predominate, the Burmese rubies and spinets and pearls from Basra and the Gulf of Mannar, off the east coast of India, will also form part of the Exhibition. All the jewels are flamboyant, yet amidst the dazzle of precious gems, individual pieces stand out by virtue of their antiquity and the merit of their craftsmanship. Most outstanding among this collection is the Imperial diamond now known as Jacob diamond, weighing 184.75 carats, which is a fabulous weight of any single gemstone. It is an invaluable sparkling diamond by all means, be its brilliant cutting, clarity and colour. It is almost double the size of Kohinoor Diamond (in the present shape). Another item is a collection of 22 unset emerald pieces. Also an exceptionally large variety of cut emeralds, emerald drops, emerald beads, Taveez and many other shapes of Jewellery from Colombia and Russia and two ornamented belts, one studded with a cut and the other with a carved emerald have their own charm. The quantity of emeralds may run into a couple of thousand carats.

The beautiful seven stringed pearl necklace (satlarah) is a unique creation and its weight and size are simply mind-boggling. There are approximately 40,000-50,000 chows (one chow = Carat x Carat x 0.65 /number of pearls) pearls in this collection. Besides, many necklaces with button pearls and diamond beads are exceptional for their extraordinary shape and cutting. Most of the Jadau (stone-studded) items showing large, rose cut and flat cut diamonds total a few thousand carats in weight. Of the many rings with large diamonds of different colours, one set with a Alexandrite stone, perhaps from the famous Russian mines, is of unusually large size bearing testimony to the nature's excellent gift - it changes its colours sparklingly when viewed under artificial light. The collection of pocket watch and watch chains studded with diamonds, emeralds and precious stones are noteworthy for their wide variety and intricate workmanship. It may be pointed out that some excellent enameled works from Jaipur, Delhi, Awadh and Deccan form part of this collection, which is comparable to the designs and details in the miniature paintings of these areas.

This exhibition is being organized for the third time to exhibit the Nizam’s Jewellery Collection. Prior to this, the Nizam’s jewellery was displayed twice at National Museum. The first exhibition was held in 2001 from 29th August – 15th September, 2001 in which 173 objects were put on display. The second exhibition was held from 26 Sept-30th December 2007.

The exhibition was inaugurated by Dr Mahesh Sharma, Hon’ble Minister of State, (Independent Charge) of Culture, Government of India on 18th February 2019 at 4.30 PM at National Museum Auditorium, Janpath, New Delhi. Shri Arun Goel, Secretary (Culture), Government of India was the Guest of Honour of the programme. Dr D.S Gangwar, Additional Secretary and Financial Advisor, Ministry of Culture was also present on the occasion. Dr B.R Mani, Director General National Museum delivered welcome address.

The exhibition is opened for public viewing from 19th February, 2019 to 5th May 2019 from 10.00 AM to 6.00 PM (except Mondays and National Holidays). Entry by Special ticket of Rs.50/- per person.

Baluchars: The Woven Narrative Silks of Bengal

Start Date: 08-02-2019  End Date: 20-03-2019  8th February 2019 to 20th March 2019   Special exhibition hall
Date of Inauguration: 8th -02-2019 05:00 P.M.
Time: 10am to 6pm (Closed on Mondays and national holidays)

Weavers Studio Resource Centre (WSRC), Kolkata in collaboration with the National Museum, New Delhi will be mounting an exhibition on the historic Baluchar textiles of Bengal in February 2019 at the Museum.This three-hundred-old weaving tradition known for its unique pictorial representation inspired by the prevailing socio-cultural and artistic conditions began in the Nawabi centre of Murshidabad. Over time, this art form disappeared only to be revived in Bishnupur and Varanasi. Despite the revived textiles differed in techniques, materials and aesthetics, it was a continuation of this unique heritage. The exhibition will showcase never seen collections including that of National Museum, Crafts Museum as well as textiles from prominent private collectors.

The exhibition will ensure a holistic understanding of this textile tradition including situating its context, understanding its designs and motifs, comparison to relevant art forms, materials and techniques used in weaving these textiles as well as contemporary take on this artistic tradition. The interactive exhibition will be aided by an audio-visual display, live demonstrations on the looms by weavers. In addition a series of events will accompany the exhibition including an International Seminar with prominent scholars, curators and textile experts discussing the Baluchar traditions, curated walk-throughs and activities. The exhibition aims to appeal to a diverse audience and educate them on the various aspects and contexts of Baluchar textile.

The Peranakan World: Cross Cultural Art of Singapore and the Straits of Malacca

Start Date: 10-02-2015  End Date: 25-03-2015    National Museum, New Delhi

A slice of the spectacular cross-cultural traditions of the Peranakan Chinese in Singapore and the surrounding region is on display at the National Museum in a special exhibition. Peranakan comes from the malay word anak, which means "child" and implies a person born of mixed heritage. The Peranakan Chinese are descendants of southern Chinese traders who settled in Southeast Asia and married local women. Their culture is rooted in Chinese traditions, but with strong influences from Southeast Asia and Europe. Peranakan art in this exhibition reflects these diverse influences. Chinese, Malay, Indian, and European cultures were fused into a distinctive style. The Peranakan phenomenon of blending different cultures and adapting to local situations retains its resonance today.

The exhibition showcases an assortment of art objects including gold and diamond jewellery; belt buckles; porcelain; furniture and beadwork

The Peranakans commissioned their jewellery from Malay, Chinese, Indian, and European jewellers, which led to diverse techniques and designs. Chinese and Malay decorative motifs were frequently combined. The kerosang - a heart-shaped brooch - perhaps the most iconic of Peranakan jewellery - is derived from a Portuguese form.

Jewellery for celebratory occasions such as weddings was primarily made of gold and diamonds, or occasionally semi-precious stones. During mourning periods, silver and pearls were used; pearls were thought to represent tears.

Also on display is Peranakan beadwork and intricately woven embroidery work, which bears the stamp of Malay, Chinese, and European influence in technique, design, and form. Commonly used for Peranakan weddings, the auspicious motifs selected for the designs were drawn largely from the Chinese repertoire. Popular choices include the peony, the mythical phoenix, a composite creature called the qilin, and butterflies (symbols of conjugal bliss, fertility, and good fortune). Metallic beads threaded and mounted on velvet backings were common embellishments. Certain objects associated with Malay weddings, such as a ceremonial handkerchief, were reinterpreted by Peranakans to incorporate Chinese designs.

Another fascinating component of the exhibition is batik work – drawing designs on cloth by applying molten wax and dyeing the areas covered.

The exhibition is also showcasing the Chinese porcelain specially made for Peranakan patrons. Peranakan porcelain, called "nyonyaware”, is characterized by vivid, contrasting colours. Buddhist emblems, mythical beasts, and flowers and birds, often within lobed panels, animate the surfaces.

The exhibition also displays spectacular altar clothes which were used for various altars. Embroidered altar cloths from China were commonly used in the Straits Settlements, while batik versions were made and used in Java. Ancestor veneration is a key element of traditional Chinese culture.

A gold belt buckle, a kerosang (made of gold and diamonds), a cotton altar cloth bearing dragon motifs and inscriptions, portraits for ancestor veneration, and a flower basket wedding bed hanging are among the other art objects that will travel to India for the first time. The exhibition commemorates the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between India and Singapore in 2015.

"This is the first time that an exhibition on the Peranakan Chinese culture is being held in India. The objects at the exhibition, most of them dating from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, have been lent by Asian Civilisations Museum and The Peranakan Museum in Singapore," said National Museum Director General Dr. Venu Vasudevan.

"The museum is privileged to host the event which will unfold the brilliance of cultural traditions and art objects of the Peranakan Chinese settlers in Singapore for a viewing by the Indian public," he added.

Dr Alan Chong, Director of the Asian Civilisations Museum and Peranakan Museum in Singapore said, "We are proud to present Peranakan art and culture to audiences in India. Peranakan art is an important example of multicultural exchange. It reveals intriguing aspects of the hybrid culture of port cities like Singapore, which have been formed by centuries of trade, immigration, and colonial rule."

David Henkel, curator for the exhibition, said. "This is for the first time that Singapore has sent a substantial exhibition to India. These objects have never been shown in India before." Henkel explains, "A major component of the exhibition will be Peranakan jewellery. For Peranakans, jewellery is an important cultural marker, a treasured heirloom, and an indicator of social standing and family wealth. As in other cultures, it is often part of a bride’s dowry."

This exhibition tells the rich story of how Chinese immigrant communities forged a unique Southeast Asian culture. This exhibition is a celebration of Southeast Asian culture.

Nauras: The Many Arts of the Deccan

Start Date: 27-01-2015  End Date: 20-03-2015    National Museum, New Delhi

National Museum is currently hosting an exhibition titled "Nauras: The Many Arts of the Deccan". This is a result of collaboration between National Museum and The Aesthetics Project, starting 27th January 2015. The exhibition has been curated by Dr Preeti Bahadur and Dr Kavita Singh with inputs of the Keepers from the National Museum, and it focuses on the highly cosmopolitan world of the Deccani Sultanates as reflected in their art forms in the 17th and 18th centuries.

While the art of the Mughals is widely known and celebrated, the contemporaneous kingdoms of Ahmednagar, Bijapur, Golconda, Berar and Bidar have been relatively neglected. "Nauras: The Many Arts of The Deccan" strives to exhibit the alluring arts and outline to provide glimpses of the fascinating history of this region. The exhibits on display are primarily derived from the collection of the National Museum; while an exquisite selection of Ragamala paintings have been loaned from the National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi. Nauras is one of the first exhibitions to showcase the rich art and culture from this chapter in the history of India, and it hopes to cultivate further interest in the same.

In the 14th century, the Bahmani Sultanate was established in the Deccan, when the Turkish governor of Mohammad Bin Tughlaq, Alauddin Bahman Shah, declared his independence from his overlord. The Bahmani kingdom in time gave way to the Sultanates of Ahmednagar, Bijapur, Golconda, Berar and Bidar. The kingdom of Vijayanagara also flourished at this time. Over a period of almost 400 years, the Deccan fostered a cosmopolitan culture in which many cultures and peoples commingled. The Sultanates were known for their tolerance, syncretism and composite culture.

The highly skilled artists and craftsmen of this Sultanate produced exquisite paintings, manuscripts, metal-ware, textiles, and arms. The long coastline of the peninsula fostered trade contacts with regions as far as South East Asia, Africa and Europe and goods from the Deccan were in high demand in many parts of the world. Intercultural contacts also resulted in the adaptation of aesthetic tastes and diverse traditions at the local level. Deccani advances in music and the arts had a profound influence on Indian art in the north as well.

The Exhibition explores these themes through 6 sections - Deccani Cosmopolitanism, The Singing Sultans, Perfume in the Deccani Garden, The Mughal Presence in Deccan, Out of the Deccan: Trade Goods made in Deccan, Royal Lineages and Ideal Kings.

Some important objects shown in this exhibition are the painting of al-Buraq, a marbled painting from Bijapur showing Rustom capturing a horse, leaves from an early Ragamala from Ahmednagar or Bijapur, a Kalamkari coverlet from Bijapur of c.1630, an 18th century Qanat from Burhanpur, an embroidered temple hanging from Vijayanagara, the Kitab-i-Nauras manuscript from Bijapur, Deccani copies of the Ajaib al Makhluqat, a book of the wonders of the world, various unique huqqa bases made of Bidriware, and the sword, armour, daggers of the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb who spent many years of his life fighting military campaigns in the Deccan.

The Buraaq is a composite creature believed to be the steed of Prophet Mohammed for his flight to paradise. The stylistic features of this painting hint at an influence from Persia, also incorporating visual traditions of Central Asia, Turkey and Iran.

A magnificent Kalamkari Coverlet from the National Museum Decorative Arts Department exemplifies "Deccani Cosmopolitanism" at its best. The textile was used to cover an item to be traded, and is possibly an import from overseas. The episode depicted is of a Deccani king relaxing in his grand palace that resembles South Asian architectural tradition. The figures surrounding this palace can be identified as belonging to different regions of the world based on their attire. There are figures from Armenia, the Mughal Kingdom, China, and also Turkey.

A collection of poems dealing with the Nine Rasas (Sentiments) of Indian Aesthetics, the Kitab-I-Nauras was written by the illustrious ruler of Bijapur, Ibrahim Adil Shah II. The manuscript was illustrated by Khalillullah, an Irani calligrapher who worked at the Safavid court before being employed at the court of this Bijapuri ruler. It is also ascertained by some scholars that the Ragamala painting traditions of Mughal and Rajput cultures may have originated in Deccan and travelled northwards.

Tobacco was introduced in the Deccan by the Portugese and the instrument of Huqqa was manufactured here and traded to other parts. Many fine huqqa bases, such as this coconut shaped one, were made of Bidriware – a speciality of Deccani metalwork in which silver or gold is inlayed into zinc alloy.

Deccani Arms and Armour grew into increasing popularity among the Mughals, as a result of Aurangzeb's incursions and short rule in this region. Many Mughal mansabdars were settled here and the Deccani swords and daggers became very popular among them. Arms were made here as well as imported through maritime trade. The exhibition will showcase the shamshir sword, the khanjar and the jambia daggers of Aurangzeb that have his name inscribed. The Jambia dagger is in itself an overseas import, being popular in Arabia and regions that the Arabs traded with.

The Exhibition will remain on view till 20 March 2015.

Rama - Katha

Start Date: 16-08-2013  End Date: 25-10-2013   
Ram Katha

The exhibition ‘Rama-Katha – The story of Rama through Indian Miniatures’ will remain on view at National Museum from 16th August, 2013 to 25th October, 2013 except on Mondays.

Rama-katha, the story of Rama, is one of the most popular themes in religious literature of India. The earliest source of Rama-katha is ‘Ramayana’ (the journey of Rama), attributed to sage-poet Valmiki, created around 5th-4thcentury BCE. The text, in Sanskrit, consists of around 24,000 shlokas (verse-couplets), divided into seven kandas (cantos).

The exhibition consists of 101 masterpieces of the Ramayana theme paintings, from the collection of National Museum. It enables the visitor to have an idea of the different styles of Indian miniature painting, reflecting on the interpretation of the same theme across stylistic genres. All major styles of Pahari painting, namely Basohli, Guler, Chamba, Mandi, Kangra, Nurpur and Bilaspur are on display. Rajasthani styles represented are Mewar, Bundi, Kota, Jodhpur, Jaipur, Bikaner, Kishangarh and Deogarh. There are representations from Central Indian styles of Malwa, Orchha, Datia and Raghogarh, besides specimens of Provincial Mughal style from Bundelkhand. Deccani from Bijapur and classical folk style of Kalighat are also on display.

Some of the outstanding miniature paintings on display are The portrait of Rama, (Basohli style, Pahari, circa 1730); Rama breaks lord Shiva’s bow in the court of king Janaka, (Provincial Mughal style, Orchha, Bundelkhand, early 17th century); Wedding of Rama and Sita(Shangri Ramayana folio, Mandi style, Pahari, mid 18th century); Bharata returns to Ayodhya with Rama’s padukas, (Jaipur – Datia mixed style, Rajasthan mid 18th century); Rama, Lakshmana and the golden deer, (Kalighat style, Bengal, late 19th century); Setubandhanam: Rama and Lakshmana, with their army of monkeys and bears, cross the bridge to reach Lanka, (Guler style drawing, Pahari, circa 1770); Hanuman, with Dronagiri mountain, Raghogarh style, (Central India, late 18th century); Agni Pariksha- The fire ordeal of Sita, (Kangra style, Pahari, circa 1800) and Mother earth receiving her daughter Sita back to her womb, (Kangra style, Pahari, early 19th century).

‘Rama Katha’ exhibition of Ramayana miniature paintings will travel to Royal Museum of Art and History, Brussels, Belgium, where it will be on display for a duration of six months from 20th November, 2013 to 18th May, 2014.

Safarnama: Journeys through a Kalamkari Hanging A Photographic Exhibition

Start Date: 08-04-2013  End Date: 21-04-2013    Ajanta Hall 1st floor
8th to 21st April 2013 | From 10.00 am to 5 pm at the Ajanta Hall 1st floor

'Safar-Nama: Journeys Through A Kalamkari Hanging" exhibition explores a unique textile that represents the formation of European taste in relation to demand for Indian textiles. This early 17th century piece is painted in the kalamkari tradition where kalam (pen made of bamboo) is used for painting the fabric.

This hanging is full of flora and fauna which reveal layers of memory associated with the symbolism and cultural ethos of different geographical areas. The hanging is a masterpiece-a virtual template, drawing on the diverse elements which had contributed to the making of the mature chintz design. It is also a pointer to further enrichment deriving inspiration from artistic features of Persian, Thai, Chinese, Japanese and Malay manifestations while there is affinity with paintings of the Tilism category found in the Mughal, Persian and Deccani schools.

This piece is housed in the French city of Mulhouse at the Musée de l'impression sur étoffes de Mulhouse, (the Museum of Printed Textiles, Mulhouse, France). Considering the delicate nature of the artefact this exhibition is based not on the fabric, but on high resolution digital prints. These detailed images show the cultural and artistic complexity that makes this hanging an extremely unique and valuable artefact.

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