Thursday, March 1, 2018

Amrapali Museum: an ode to Indian jewellery

By Shilpi Madan
Photography: Courtesy the museum
Read Time: 2 mins
"heritage jewellery amrapali museum indiaartndesign"
toe-rings| ruby hastphool at the back of the tiny hand at the end of the silver back scratcher, with concealed daggers within at each end - probably a queen's vanity essential| hairpin

Unseen tribal jewellery and heirlooms in silver and gold from across India pirouette proudly at the recently opened Amrapali Museum in Jaipur…

Attention: Jewellery connoisseurs and lovers of antiquated ornaments - the 6500 sq. ft. Amrapali Museum in the Pink City opens a treasure trove of antediluvian tribal jewellery and stunning heirlooms in fine silver and gold-smithery.

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Parsi necklace and ornamental hasli from Karnataka (choker)
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kaanphools (earrings)

For Rajiv Arora and Rajesh Ajmera, the men behind the iconic Amrapali jewellery brand, curating over 4000 bewitching artefacts across 40 years has been a labour of love, rich in history and Indian traditions. Serendipity led them to saving artisanal pieces from being pawned or sold by villagers, only to give back to society in the form of a curated collection.

"bracelets heritage amrapali museum indiaartndesign"
kadas (bracelets)

So, we behold a rather lyrical unfolding of pieces: a lavish mirrorwork necklace in emerald green and white, dating back to the 19th century, when mirror was yet to come to India; an ornate silver sehra (forehead ornament for the bridegroom in Himachal Pradesh), finely crafted hairpins, mathapattis (head ornaments), kaanphools (earrings), hastphools (hand jewellery), pair phools (foot jewellery), araipatta (waistband), bichwa (toe rings), naths (nose rings), kadas (bracelets), the traditional Rajasthani head ornament, borla and umpteen others from the interiors of Kutch, Rajasthan, Awadh and yonder.

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bajubands (armlets) with rose-cut-diamonds from Hyderabad

In the Gold Room here, yellow metal rules in chiselled haslis (chokers) with ornamental clasps from Karnataka, treasured bajubands (armlets) with rose-cut-diamonds from Hyderabad; breath-taking jadai nagam (hair ornaments) in rubies, emeralds, white sapphires...from Tamil Nadu and a gleaming Parsi necklace laced with diamond inlay and words from Avestan credo.

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silver anklets
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gold anklet| silver enamelled anklet

Customised in-lit drawers open soundlessly to unveil carefully displayed artefacts. The hooks on which the pieces are suspended are concealed, spotlighting the craftsmanship as strategically placed magnifying glasses treat the visitors to the fine artistry at the rear of the pieces. Concealed lighting highlights the intricacies of the displayed ornaments and curios, against the muted pebble grey fabric background. 3D backlit close ups in black and white, or detailed carvings on some of the pieces make for a riveting visual mosaic.

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deity earrings

From Portuguese styled filigiree and golden thewa of Pratapgarh to the, colonial silver from Kutch and ateliers of Awadh, the grandoise of Hyderabad courts to the treasured swatches of splendid Indian bolts of silks and zaris, the space is a pure treat for fine art aficionados. Heirloom stretches of gold and silver celebrated in fabrics through the kalamkari artistry, across the walls. A rare tiger claw necklace, a fossilised shaligram making up a delicate silver belt, gold jooties (footwear) studded with precious stones, silver khadau simply dazzle. Then there are the miniscule gold earrings retrieved from the river beds of Ganga and Yamuna.  

"waistband araipatta heritage amrapali museum indiaartndesign"
araipatta (waist band)

The Museum is a breath-taking celebration of Indian heritage in unseen forms. A must-visit for every art connoisseur.

Amrapali Museum, K 14/B Ashok Marg, C Scheme, Ashok Nagar, Jaipur, Rajasthan

Timing: 11 am – 6pm. Last entry at 5 pm
Open from Monday to Sunday 
Ticket: Rs 600/- per person

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