Hyderabad's Salarjung Museum (SJM) -- the historic national museum of India -- is constructing an exclusive Islamic art gallery to showcase its impressive collection of Islamic art.
The giant gallery will take up 26,000 square feet and will be located on the second floor of the Museum's eastern block. The cost of construction is US$750,000 (Rs.40 million).
The SJM will display more than 2,500 exhibits, such as swords, textiles, manuscripts, Persian carpets, holy Quran, jade, porcelain and glass objects containing Quranic inscriptions in the new gallery. At present, these objects are on display in different galleries.
"The British Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London both have an Islamic art gallery. In India, no museum has such a gallery," said A. Nagender Reddy, director, SJM.
The SJM library is a veritable treasure trove of rare books and manuscripts. It has more than 56,000 books and around 9,000 manuscripts in different languages. Visitors will now be able to see all of the 2,600 Arabic manuscript collection, 4,800 Persian, 1,000 Urdu, 25 Turkish and nearly 1,400 lose panels of calligraphy at one place.
Not just this. The SJM library has a rich collection of exquisite volumes of the Holy Qur'an. It has 365 copies of the Quran in various caligraphy stiles, including the Kufic, Naskh, Nataliq, Raihan and Thulth scripts. Most of these are illustrated and decorated.
The SJM boasts of the oldest folio of the Qur'an on parchment in the Kufic script belonging to the ninth century, representing rare calligraphy work. The miniature Qur'an, measuring a mere two cm. by three cm. and printed in 31 folios is simply awe-inspiring. There are only two such minature Qur'ans in the world - one in Iran and another at SJM. All of these will be shifted to the new gallery.
Authorities also propose to shift the Egyptian and Syrian collections, including numerous paintings and artifacts from the Arab world will be moved to the new gallery, as well as 200-odd rosaries. The prayer beads are now languishing in the museum store. Also, the archer rings of the Moghal king Shahjhan and the wardrobe of turbans and chair of Tippu Sultan, will find a place.
At present, the museum artefacts are categorised as Indian art, Middle Eastern art, European and Far Eastern collection. "Now we want to present all the Islamic art at one place," Mr. Reddy said.
J. S. Ifthekhar, "Plans for an Islamic art gallery in Salarjung Museum" The Hindu January 2, 2012
Mohd Ismail Khan, "Salar Jung museum to open an Islamic art gallery" Two Circles January 2, 2011
Reproduced with permission from Islam Today