A CON­NOIS­SEUR’S COR­NER

The re­cently opened Gyan Mu­seum in Jaipur, a trea­sure house of over 2,500 arte­facts in­clud­ing jew­ellery, paint­ings, tex­tiles and more, en­cap­su­lates a glo­ri­ous cul­tural her­itage dat­ing back to about 3,000 years.

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The re­cently opened Gyan Mu­seum in Jaipur, a trea­sure house of over 2,500 arte­facts in­clud­ing jew­ellery, paint­ings, tex­tiles and more, en­cap­su­lates a glo­ri­ous cul­tural her­itage dat­ing back to about 3,000 years.

The re­cently in­au­gu­rated Gyan Mu­seum in Jaipur speaks vol­umes about one man’s sin­gu­lar pas­sion for arts, his­tory and lit­er­a­ture. Gyan Chand Dhad­dha (19402004) was a nat­u­ral­ist, col­lec­tor and gem­mol­o­gist, and the mu­seum, filled taste­fully with arte­fects, jew­ellery and other col­lectibles, is a lov­ing trib­ute to Gyan Chand by his two sons, Suresh and Arun. Born in a tra­di­tional Jain fam­ily, he was sur­rounded by such phi­los­o­phy, vi­su­als, and be­lief sys­tems that in­stilled in him the love for arts, crafts, po­etry and lit­er­a­ture. At 16, his fa­ther pre­sented him two arte­facts that cap­ti­vated him enough to turn him into an avid col­lec­tor for life. A sea­soned trav­eller, Gyan Chand demon­strated how art in all its ex­pres­sive forms en­riches our lives. A keen aes­thete, he grad­u­ally fo­cused on the jew­ellery busi­ness, and in 1988 he founded a jew­ellery store Gem Plaza that of­fered tra­di­tional yet present-day de­signs. A vi­sion­ary and well-read per­son, he also men­tored sev­eral jewellers from the re­gion.

Af­ter his demise, his sons Suresh and Arun set up the Gyan Mu­seum that dis­plays ta­pes­tries, paint­ings, an­tiques and art pieces from Ra­jasthan, In­dia, and around the world col­lected by their fa­ther dur­ing his life­time. Gyan Mu­seum is housed in the fac­tory of Gem Plaza where they man­u­fac­ture the finest jew­ellery pieces in­spired by the works of in­es­timable sig­nif­i­cance from the per­ma­nent col­lec­tion of the mu­seum. The mu­seum has been de­signed in a man­ner to high­light each sec­tion by cre­ative use of dif­fer­ent types of light­ing de­pend­ing on the arte­facts. The mu­seum has the most ex­ten­sive col­lec­tion of jew­ellery with strik­ingly stylised forms fash­ioned out of sil­ver and gold and en­crusted with gem­stones. One of the in­ter­est­ing pieces is a Sule­mani agate in which a four-leaf clover is found nat­u­rally. It’s a rare, one-of-a-kind piece. The four-leaf clover is con­sid­ered very lucky as each leaf sym­bol­ises faith, hope, love, and good luck. Gyan Chand Dhad­dha used to wear this as a pen­dant, and not sur­pris­ingly, it is also the brand logo of Gyan. In re­cent decades, the sig­nif­i­cance of In­dian tex­tiles has been ex­am­ined in greater depth. Gar­ments were con­sid­ered a sta­tus sym­bol de­not­ing wealth and re­li­gious al­le­giance. Choga is an outer gar­ment worn in many cul­tures across Asia. Dur­ing the Mughal pe­riod, this gar­ment was pop­u­larised as a cer­e­mo­nial cloak worn at court. Se­lect pieces de­pict an ambi mo­tif, the in­dige­nous adap­ta­tion of the pais­ley. Also on view are an­garakhas, still used in dif­fer­ent parts of In­dia. The gar­ment’s vari­a­tions in­clude cot­ton, silk, block print, plain, em­broi­dered and bro­caded pieces, and their aes­thet­ics can be de­con­structed to af­firm the in­ter­ac­tion be­tween dif­fer­ent cul­tures. The gar­ments in the mu­seum are a fine ex­am­ple of such ex­changes. The minia­ture paint­ing tra­di­tion has been a key form of In­dian paint­ing apart from mu­rals, cloth paint­ings and paint­ings on wood. Ra­jasthan is fa­mous for minia­ture art, mainly pa­tro­n­ised in the royal courts from the 15th to the 19th cen­tury. The mu­seum pre­sents a range of style and tech­niques em­ployed by artist in royal work­shops of yore. The mu­seum also has a col­lec­tion of ves­sels, salvers and fig­ures in brass, bronze, sil­ver, zinc and al­loys from dif­fer­ent parts of In­dia. Hookah is be­lieved to be a Per­sian im­port to the In­dian sub­con­ti­nent. Ak­bar’s court chron­i­cler Abul Fazl doc­u­ments Ak­bar’s first smoke of tobacco hookah in the be­gin­ning of the 17th cen­tury. The mu­seum has the largest col­lec­tion of an­cient hookah mouth­pieces, dis­play­ing a wide range of ma­te­ri­als, tech­nique and dec­o­ra­tive el­e­ments, which in­clude sil­ver, enamel and fil­i­gree work. One also gets to see a vast col­lec­tion of manuscripts in var­i­ous lan­guages and scripts, which are a source for crit­i­cal stud­ies in arts and other re­lated sub­jects. Cov­er­ing a pe­riod of about 1,300-1,400 years, broadly from the 7th cen­tury to the 20th cen­tury, the manuscripts are ex­e­cuted on a myr­iad of ma­te­ri­als such as parch­ment, birch bark, palm leaf, pa­per, cloth, wood and metal. The mu­seum has a col­lec­tion of Kal­pa­su­tra manuscripts with em­broi­dered cov­ers which fea­ture aus­pi­cious sym­bols ven­er­ated in the Jain faith.

The mu­seum has the most ex­ten­sive col­lec­tion of jew­ellery with strik­ingly stylised forms fash­ioned out of sil­ver and gold and en­crusted with gem­stones.

Gyan Chand Dhad­dha

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