Special Reports

Salar Jung Museum to have Islamic gallery

By Aftab H. Kola

Hyderabad: The growing interest in Islamic art and artefacts has kindled Hyderabad’s famed Salarjung Museum to separately house a section on Islamic Art. Work is going on in full steam and the Islamic Art Gallery is expected to  be completed in a year’s time.

Salar Jung Museum

Speaking to Milli Gazette,  Dr. A.Nagender Reddy, director of the Salarjung Museum, said:  “The Islamic Art section to be housed on the second floor of the Far Eastern building in the Salarjung Museum, will exhibit all  the Islamic-related collectibles that are showcased in different galleries of the museum. It will take visitors on a journey across space and through time, encouraging visitors to explore bygone splendour of Islam.” Spanning an area of 20,000 sqft, the museum will have a collection of Islamic jades, rosaries, manuscripts, textiles,  rare copies of the Holy Qur’an, old Islamic manuscripts, arms and ammunitions, prayer rugs, carpets, ewers,  ceramics, etc. Manuscripts in this part of the collection would include the oldest folio of the Holy Qur’an on parchment in the Kufi script dating to the ninth century CE representing rare calligraphy work. The miniature Qur’an measuring 2x3 cm and printed in 31 folios is a feast for the eyes. All these will be shifted to the new gallery.

Salarjung museum, a veritable treasure trove of rare books, manuscripts, artefacts, and other stuff, will be the first museum in India to have an exclusive Islamic gallery. This Islamic gallery will showcase 365 copies of the Holy Qur’an in Kufi, Naskh, Nata’liq, Raihan and Thuluth scripts.

The SJM library  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 collections, 4,800 Persian, 1,000 Urdu, 25 Turkish and nearly 1,400 loose panels of calligraphy at one place.

The museum authorities are also planning  to shift the Egyptian and Syrian collections and the 200-odd rosaries to the new gallery and the archer rings of the Mughal Emperor Shahjahan, which are in dark green jade, will find place in the Islamic art gallery.

At present, the museum artefacts are categorised as Indian art, Middle Eastern art, European and Far Eastern collection.    

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-31 August 2014 on page no. 13

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