For the first time in almost 12 years, the National Museum in Delhi is preparing to display the priceless jewellery collection of the Nizam of Hyderabad.
The date of inauguration of the exhibition hasn’t been decided yet, but most of the groundwork for the event has been completed. The National Museum exhibited the jewellery for the first time in 2001 and again e in 2007. There have also been two exhibitions of the jewellery at the Salarjung Museum in Hyderabad during the same period.
“In India, jewellery is an integral part of lifestyle. Among them, the Nizam’s collection of jewels is especially unique. It, therefore holds a significant position in the history of gemology and jewellery,” said Sanjib Kumar Singh , curator of the exhibition.
Soon after India’s independence and the annexation of erstwhile princely state of Hyderabad, the seventh and last Nizam, Mir Osman Ali Khan, created 54 trusts. The jewels, now in the custody of the Indian government, were part of the assets of these exclusive trusts. In March 1951, HEH the Nizam’s Jewellery Trust was created and it took over 103 items including state regalia; in February 1952, HEH the Nizam’s Supplemental Jewellery Trust took custody of 144 pieces of jewellery.
Negotiations began in 1972 between the Indian government and the family for the sale of the priceless heritage. In 1995, the Indian government finally acquired a part of the inventory for Rs. 217 crore. The actual value of this precious legacy is difficult to asses because it not only represents some of the finest jewels found in the Indian subcontinent, but also stands as a silent witness to the history of the Deccan region.
According to the government, the present collection comprises a total of 173 items acquired from the two trusts. The actual number of pieces, if pairs and groups of ornaments are split up, is 325 not, including 22 unset emeralds, and the 185-carat Jacob diamond, one of the world’s largest by size.
The collection includes turban ornaments, necklaces, earrings, armbands, bracelets, bells, buttons and cufflinks , anklets, watch chains and rings—all jewels once worn by the once fabulously wealthy Nizams of Hyderabad, their wives, children and grandchildren.
“This collection is a national treasure and comprises of jewels of fine beauty and rarity. I believe the jewels should be on permanent display as they belong to the people of India,” says art historian Deepthi Sasidharan, who has co-authored the book, Treasures of the Deccan–Jewels of the Nizams, published recently.
The exhibition is likely to feature around 33 showcases. The National Museum proposes to charge visitors Rs 50 for a 30-minute tour of the exhibition.
First Published: Jan 11, 2019 07:41 IST
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