Saturday, October 24, 2015

Salarjung Museum - Outing With Anjali

As listed in Anjali's to-do list for the Dussehra vacation, Salar Jung museum came up. Anjali's two close confidants Mansi and Harsh were invited. Mansi declined but Harsh joined us armed with a nice bag full of food. We hit the museum by 1030 in the morning.
Ivory work - out of a tusk
Entry for kids under 12 is free, adult tickets are some 15 bucks and camera (including mobile cameras) are 50 bucks. There is an elaborate check for vehicles by some tough military looking types (why do the military guys look so tough, clear and precise?). Parking costs another 50 bucks. There is a canteen at the back end, near the parking area. The walk is a little long. Security at the gate again - scanner for bags etc and pat downs for visitors. Once in, we headed left, the Eastern side.
Veiled Rebecca - Marble Statue with gossamer fine detail on the veil
We move through spacious halls full of well categorised articles. Paintings, miniatures, metal products, textiles, wood carvings, bronzes, arms and armoury, bidri work, glass works, ivory carvings, clocks, toys, furniture, clothes, walking sticks, porcelain and so on. We spent much time gazing at the exquisitely crafted items. Anjali and Harsh listened to me intently as I gave them a quick understanding of the history of Hyderabad - the Qutb Shahis, the Nizams, the Salar Jungs, the relevance of the musuem - and they listened intently.
Fine display for Rebecca
Our main aim was to tick off the three most important items according to me - the musical clock which is wildly popular for some reason, the veiled Rebecca and the statue of man and woman. The musical cock and the veiled Rebeccca were in the ground floor while the wooden statue of Man and Woman was in the western pavilion on the first floor, well hidden in a hall titled 'Paintings!'
Musical Clock - About
After wandering around many of the rooms in the ground floor - where the walking sticks with knives caused considerable excitement among the two young visitors who mimed drawing daggers and fighting one another - we spent time admiring the veiled Rebecca and other marble statues.
Oops - Dogs!

The veiled Rebecca was scupted by sculptor G.B. Benzoni and acquired by Salar Jung I on a visit to Italy. Apparently the sculptor (or so I read) has left a blot on the right thigh of the statue as an indication that perfection is only for the gods.
H and A before the Musical Clock action began
We returned in time for the musical clock and its grand performance at 12 noon. The entire courtyard was filled up, some few hundreds of people, no place to even stand, people waited there for almost half an hour. It's not very clear what happened even on the small TV screen - why don't they have a bigger screen is what beats me. The musical clock's importance comes from a blacksmith on the top right who hammers away at time, every second to be precise, and the appearance of a bearded man in a red dress at the turn of every hour to strike on a large bell. People just love it.
Some young thoughts

We hit the first floor which has an interesting Eastern pavilion - a Chinese gallery, a Japanese gallery, a Far Eastern porcelain gallery etc. In the Central block there are, toys, flora and fauna, manuscripts, silver gallery and on the western side lies the western pavilion with European paintings, European glass, French gallery, pocelain and clocks.
Some more activity in their world 
The famous Man and Woman statue of Mephistopheles and Margaretta is displayed in the Paintings hall so don't ignore that - I almost did.
Man and Woman - Mephistopheles and Margaretta

I like the modern man and woman in the foreground - On equal footing
So there is good and bad (Mephistopheles apparently barters the soul of Margaretta's husband for sensual pleasures with tragic consequences), man and woman, arrogance and humility, power and servility, control and the controlled.
Porcelain hall - Like the piano effect on the flooring which I did not notice while there

But nice touch - Oriental stuff in the Eastern block and European stuff in the western block.
Ullus - Owls
The kids showed a lot of patience and made the experience interesting and fun as they always do by devising some games while imbibing the artefacts on display. To me it gave a fresher perspective at what the creators had created, the painstaking work in collecting these items and maintaining them, the lives those nobles led, the thought that prevailed, of beauty and abundance, recognition of art, and more importantly the splendid workmanship that went into creating such works of art that were on display.
Some walking sticks - some had knives inside
Behind every single one was the life and vision, craft and patience of craftsmen who envisioned and carefully extricated beauty from the hazy picture that existed in their minds. I tried to explain to the children how a block of marble must have looked before the sculptor decided to convert that into a work of art like the veiled Rebecca. They listened and hopefully understood a small part of what the artist goes through. Wonderful.
The Salar Jung musuem has come about mainly due to the efforts of Nawab Mir Yousuf Ali Khan, Salar Jung III, who is responsible for the maximum collection in the musuem. Originally the collection was on display in Diwan Devdi (lies behind the curent museum) which is the ancestral palace of the Salar Jungs, who were nobles with the Nizams with many of them being Prime Ministers. The museum was first established in 1951.
More clocks - ironical, because our Hyderabadi culture is about having no concept of time
Later an Act of Parliament was passed - the Salar Jung Musuem Act in 1961 which recognised it as an institution of national importance. The collection was shifted to the existing premises which stand on the banks of River Musi in 1968. The Salar Jung museum is managed by a Board which is an autonomous body formed under the Act.

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