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Alamkara - The Beauty of Ornament

Item Code: NAH719
Author: Usha R Balakrishnan
Publisher: National Museum, New Delhi
Language: English
Edition: 2014
ISBN: 8185832307
Pages: 240 (Throughout Color Illustrations)
Cover: Paperback
Other Details 9.0 inch X 7.0 inch
Weight 730 gm
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Book Description
Back of the BooK

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.


Foreword Vi
the curator's Introduction 1
The jewellery Gallery 35
the Indus Valley Civilization: Finesse & Sophistication 37
Case I: The Indus Valley Civilization 38
Case:2 The Indus Valley Civilization 43
Sirkap Taxila: Indo-Greek Confluence 51
Case 3: Sirkap Taxila 52
Case 4: Sirkap, Taxila 62
Gods and Goddesses: The Invisible becomes Visible 70
Case 5: Gods and Goddesses 71
Sartorial Splendoure: Jewels for Maharjas 79
Case 6: Sartorial Splendour 80
The Beauty of Adornment: From Head to Toe 88
Case 7: Head ornaments 89
Case 68: Earrings and Nose Rings 97
Case 9: Necklaces 104
Case 10: Necklaces 111
Case 11: Arbands, Bracelets and Bangles 118
Case 12: Belts, Rings Anklets and Tloe Rings 126
South India: Land of Gold and Gems 134
Case 13: South India 135
Case 14: South India 156
The Mughal Heritage: Craftsmanship Par Excellence 149
Case 15: the Mughal heritage 150
Case 16: The Mughal heritage 156
The Nineteenth Century: Changing Tastes and Fashions 164
Case 17: The Nineteenth Century 165
The Language of Flowers 172
Case 18: The Language of flowers 173
The World of Fauna 181
Case 19: The World of Fauna 182
Amulets: The Power of Protection 190
Case 20: Amulets 191
Tali: The Marriage Pendant 197
Case 21: Tali 198
Craftsmanship: The Sothern India 202
Case 22: Craftsmanship 203
Craftsmanship: The Celestial Gems 207
Case 23: Craftsmanship 208
Navaratna: The Celestial Gems 214
Case 24: Navaratna 215
Jewelled Objects 223
Case 25: Jewelled Objects 224

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