ALAMKARA: The Beauty of Ornament is a catalogue of jewellery from the permanent collection of the National Museum, New Delhi. It is published to accompany the exhibition that marks the reinstallation of the jewellery gallery in the museum. The essays and descriptions in the book, authored by leading scholar and jewellery historian Usha R Balakrishnan, explores the rich and unique heritage of the collection.
More than 250 items spanning 5000 years of design, style and craftsman- ship are beautifully illustrated and presented in colour and detail. From the ancient jewels of Mohenjodaro, Harappa and Sirkap, to gem encrusted ornaments from the rot h century, the book showcases the beauty and heritage of the jewelled arts of India.
National Museum-New Delhi houses one of the rarest and finest collections of jewellery from across India. The Museum's permanent collection of jewellery has some of the finest archaeological pieces from the Indus Valley Civilization and historic Taxila. Apart from these significant pieces, the Museum's collection is perhaps the most representative of the various regions of the country and jewellery making traditions prevalent here.
The Jewellery Gallery of National Museum was opened in April 1994, and was on public view till 2000. The Gallery made way for the exhibition of the Nizams' Jewellery, and returned to public view in, 2002. It was again closed in 2006, since when it remained shut, till now. The reopening of the Jewellery Gallery has been a long standing demand, and was one of the important milestones that I set for the Museum as part of the overall revival initiative to revitalize the Museum.
I am very happy to present before our esteemed visitors the reorganized Jewellery Gallery of the National Museum. Appropriately titled 'Alamkara - The Beauty of Ornament', the Gallery displays more than 250 magnificent jewellery pieces. Among the other galleries in the museum the Jewellery Gallery marks its own significance where viewers can see Indian artistry in gold, gems, precious stones and semiprecious stones, their intrinsic and historic value and the excellence in their craftsmanship.
The new Gallery is not a mere rehash of the previous display - the curatorial approach, the display techniques and the interpretation have all changed, bringing in sophistication and scholarship. The Gallery has been curated by Dr. Usha R. Balakrishnan, an authority on Indian jewels and their classification. The narrative has been lucidly written by her in the piece that follows in this catalogue. She has been assisted by Dr. R. K. Tewari, Deputy Curator (N&E), the custodian of the collection who took on the task of documenting the collection. I must also record my appreciation and gratitude to Shri P. K. Nagta, Chemist, who took the lead in the arduous task of identification, conservation and documentation of the pieces. All of us remember the services of the erstwhile Curator Late Smt. Rita Devi Sharma who had looked after the collection for several decades.
I hope that this catalogue will enrich the visitor's experience of the Jewellery Collection, and assist the student and researcher to obtain a deeper understanding of the history and traditions of jewellery in India.
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