'Alamkara' jewel gallery reopens in Delhi
New Delhi: It was a day to relive the rich ancient history of India as the National Museum here turned into India's largest repository of antique jewellery when a gallery featuring works from the Indus Valley civilisation (3,300 BC) to the more recent ones of the 19th and 20th centuries opened its doors once again.
"Alamkara", the gallery that was last functionable in 2006, has the most extensive collection of jewellery in India with more than 250 items displayed. It was inaugurated by Minister of State for Culture and Tourism Shripad Yesso Naik.
From the beautifully tumbled agate bead necklaces of Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa to the fabulous jewellery that was once the pride of the Mughals and the maharajas, the display features important periods of Indian history.
The minister also said that the National Museum is poised to get four more galleries by 2016.
"Four of a total of eight galleries that have remained closed for long have been opened. The Bronzes gallery would be opened in January next year, followed by the Manuscripts gallery in March," he told reporters after going around "Alamkara".
"Two galleries, both featuring Central Asian antiquities, will be reopened by 2016," he added.
Naik was shown around the new gallery by its guest curator, Usha Balakrishnan, who briefed Naik about the salient features of the antiques on display in the 25 glass cases.
One got the chance to see not only the simple everyday wear item but also magnificent creations made for ceremonial occasions. From items fashioned from mostly gold besides shell, bone and silver to those made to adorn, enhance, beautify and worn to protect, heal and energise, the jewels of India ornaments definitely strike a right chord with visitors.
Painstakingly wrought by anonymous goldsmiths in ateliers and workshops across the country, the national museum collection celebrates the great variety of forms, the beauty of Indian design and the genius of Indian craftsmanship.
The collection displays ornaments that can be worn by men, women as well as children. From turban ornaments along with Maharajah's jewels to ear-rings of the Rajasthani male, there was some of the eye catching designs that were displayed in the gallery.
The collection had different themes. While it follows chronology what with first glass-case showcasing objects of Harappa and Mohenjo-daro, the next segment on Taxila has jewels from the 1st century CE.
Further, the gallery has cases with themes such as 'God' (jewels seen on deities) and 'Maharajas' in the next two glass cases. Next comes typology, ornaments worn from head to toe. Then there is a set of four glass cases, displaying the stylistic difference of articles from the country's north and south.
There are also exhibits showing the flora and fauna used in ornamentation.