Thursday, July 12, 2012

Hyderabad Chronicles II - Walking through Salar Jung Museum

Hyderabad Chronicles I - To Hyderabad and Salar Jung Museum
Hyderabad Chronicles II - Walking through Salar Jung Museum
Hyderabad Chronicles III - Charminar, Mecca Masjid, Chowmahalla Palace, Hussain Sagar and Birla Mandir
Hyderabad Chronicles IV - Golconda Fort, Kutb Shahi tombs, Spanish Mosque and Secundrabad

One of the popular items in the museum is a clock. The speciality is, in every hour a toy soldier will open a small door at one side of the clock and hit a bell using a small hammer. For e.g. at 12 'o' clock, he will hit the bell 12 times. I reached this area (located at ground floor, two LCD screens placed on both sides of the clock are live telecasting the events) around 11.30am. A large number of people were already sitting in front of the clock, waiting for 12 'o' clock.

As there was some more time left to twelve, I went to see European marble statues. Cleopatra by Prof. Borione, Bebe by a French sculptor capturing the innocence of a baby, ‘Psyche’ wife of Cupid who is celebrated for her beauty, 2 copies of French sculptor, Canora (1757-1822) consisting of Princess Pauline as Venus and another figure of Venus brightens this gallery.

G.B. Benzoni's veiled Rebecca is also present in this room. As somebody described it’s indeed a melody in marble. Rebecca, daughter of Bethal known for her beauty lived with her brother. Anxious to arrange her marriage, her brother finds a match for her in Isaac. Isaac came to Rebecca's home and was introduced to her by her brother. Seeing him made her shy and she tried to cover her excitement by trying to hide her face in a veil. Benzoni bring life to this scenario again through his marble statue.

You can see even the delicate folding in the veil and her cloths. Benzoni made the statue in such a way that the veil looks like a transparent cover in front of her face. You can clearly see her beautiful face (expressing the excitement of seeing Isaac) through this veil. It is believed that Benzoni made four copies of veiled Rebecca.

I went back to the clock area. It was fully crowded by then; people were standing in both sides. After searching for some time I managed to get a chair. Four minutes to go. I waited eagerly, 3...2...1 and suddenly the door opened and soldier came out. We started counting the seconds 56...57...58...59... And finally its 12. Soldier started hitting the bell using his rod. Sitting somewhere in the 8th or 9th row, at first I didn't understand what was happening (I thought, there will be 12 soldiers coming one by one and hitting the bell), but when the soldier hit the bell for ninth time I realised the scenario - there is only one soldier. Three more to go...10...11...12 and the show was over. Soldier closed the door and went back.

After leaving the clock area I went to the jade gallery on the first floor. Going through the objects on display I reached one place, where a small knife was on display. I read the small letters below it - it was NoorJahan's fruit knife. Dagger of Salar Jung III, Aurangazeb and Jahangir decorated using jades hangs below. My eyes fixed on Aurangzeb’s dagger, especially its handle part. It was once used by Aurangzeb, who ruled one of the biggest empires in the history of India for more than half a century!!!

After that I went to other galleries like Middle Eastern carpet collection, toys etc; as my journey was for two days and yet to see the other parts of the city, I moved quickly and went to other sections.

Chinese... In one end there was a statue of Chinese God of prosperity. Chinese porcelain like 'Celadon' ware, Ivory objects etc displays the richness of Chinese cultural heritage and her workers skills.

Just like Japanese bewildered the world by her growth in the post WW II era Japanese collection too will make a special mark on the memories of a visitor. Blue and white porcelain, vases, bowls, various types of plates shows the quality of Japanese workmanship. Apart from this, museum also has a collection of Japanese embroideries, daggers and swords (including Samurai swords).

You can also see the Tibetan and Burmese cultural heritage in the museum, especially their Buddhist tradition.

Finally, I reached Western Section; here the magnificent representatives of European arts will welcome you. Attractive glass objects, various types of clocks, glass sets (specimens drawn from Venice, France, England, America, Bohemia, Belgium, Istanbul, Czechoslovakia etc; small LED's are placed at the bottom of the glass which made the view more attractive), furniture, ivories etc.

There is also a good collection of European porcelain in the museum. Austrian, Dresden, English, Wedgewood, Worcester, Chelsea, Derby, Coalport, Spade, Manchester, Minton, Wedgwood etc represents the European tradition and skills.

One of the statues is 'Mephistopheles and Margaretta'. In this statue good and evil are represented by the sculptor in a subtle way. One side of the statue (in wood) represents evil - in the form of an old man - this side is looking towards the viewer. There is a mirror behind the statue which reveals the other side of the statue - a beautiful young lady. The concept is taken from Goethe’s tragic German drama 'Dr. Faust'.

Another interesting painting in this room is Hayez’s 'Soap Bubbles', in this painting a boy is blowing soap bubbles up in to the air. Hayez is able to bring life to this picture. In one end a painting describes the scene of Persian royal family requesting Alexander to spare their life after latter's victory against Persian Empire.

In another one author describes the operation of a woman, who is almost naked. One person is performing operation in her body and others are looking the process. After spending some more time with paintings I slowly came out of the room.

Museum also contains a number of European marble statues. Majority of them are copies of Greek mythological figures. Some describe the expressions of a woman at different times of the year. Apart from this there are galleries for flora & Fauna, Western furniture, Kashmir Gallery etc.

I slowly came out of the museum. It required more than a day to see the complete collection; unfortunately I only had two days to see the entire city. So it’s time to say bye to Salar Jung museum.... By the way, whoever sees the museum will definitely appreciate the effort of Salar Jung in making this beautiful collection.


Photo Courtesy: Salarjung Museum website

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing well researched information about Salar Jung Museum. The is famous for being the third- largest museum in the country, the museum boasts of having the largest antiques collection.