Hyderabad: Even as Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao has firmed up plans to set up an Islamic centre at Manikonda, Hyderabadis can look forward to a project on similar lines taking shape soon.
The famed Salar Jung Museum (SJM) is working on an exclusive Islamic art gallery and it is expected to be thrown open to the public by this year-end. The gallery will have everything connected to Islamic art under one roof.
The second floor of the museum’s eastern block is a beehive of activity as workers are busy putting in place huge display panels to showcase more than 2,500 exhibits. These are presently scattered in different galleries. SJM authorities are spending Rs 4 crore on creation of the 26,000-sqft gallery, the first-of-its-kind in the country.
“Only the Victoria Albert Museum, London and the Metropolitan Museum, New York, have such a gallery,” SJM director A Nagender Reddy said.
The museum artifacts 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,” Reddy said.
What does the Islamic Art gallery offer? Plenty. Art connoisseurs can find swords, textiles, manuscripts, prayer rugs, Persian carpets, holy Quran, jade, porcelain and glass objects containing Quranic inscriptions in the new gallery.
The SJM library is home to more than 56,000 books and 9,000 manuscripts in different languages, including 2,600 Arabic manuscripts, 4,800 Persian, 1,000 Urdu, 25 Turkish and nearly 1,400 lose panels of calligraphy.
The SJM boasts of 365 copies of Al Quran in Kufi, Naskh, Nataliq, Raihan and Thulth scripts. Most of these are illustrated and decorated. A jade ‘rehal’ (book stand) and ‘zafar takia’ are something worth a look.
There is also the oldest folio of Quran on parchment in the Kufi script belonging to the ninth century representing rare calligraphy work. The miniature Quran measuring 2 cm by 3 cm printed in 31 folios is simply awe-inspiring. There are only two such small Qurans — one in Iran and the other at SJM. The SJM also boasts of 200-odd rosaries.
“We are looking for persons with Islamic background and knowledge of museology to pick up Islamic artifacts from the museum collection for display in the Islamic Art gallery,” Reddy said.
Space for an exhibition hall is also being created in the new gallery. Other museums can display their Islamic artifacts here. Even private collections pertaining to Islamic art can be exhibited. It is further proposed to have digital form of display in the Islamic art gallery. Visitors can browse information about famous mosques and things connected with Islamic art, Reddy said.