Through the Eyes of a Collector

A look at the rich and varied collection of Gyan Museum, Jaipur in Rajasthan, India

Dastkari Haat Samiti

Dastkari Haat Samiti

Jewellery of Rajasthan: Gyan museum collection (2018-03) by Gyan museumDastkari Haat Samiti

Gyan Chand Dhaddha was a highly skilled jeweller and gemologist with a refined eye for art and culture. His passion for art and artefacts can be traced back to the year 1956, when his father gifted him two antique silver heads of traditional mouth pieces for hookah, a hubble-bubble pipe. At the age of sixteen he unknowingly set on a journey of collecting extraordinary pieces considered for their beauty and excellent craftsmanship—an act that made him a collector even before he realised it. 

Jewellery of Rajasthan: Gyan Museum (18 - 19 century) by Gyan museumDastkari Haat Samiti

This 17th century ruby studded hookah mouthpiece in the shape of tribal hands is said to be a gift from the collector’s father when he was sixteen. This piece of craftsmanship marks the beginning of his journey as a collector.

Jewellery of Rajasthan: Gyan museum (18 - 19 century) by Gyan museumDastkari Haat Samiti

A 19th century golden pendant with an image of the deity Shrinath placed behind a pair of spectacles.

Besides curved temples, an interesting aspect of the glass is one lens has higher optical power than the other. It depicts the probability of it being a jeweller’s eyeglasses, which might have been used to assess the genuineness and purity of precious and semi-precious stones and metals.

Jewellery of Rajasthan: Gyan Museum (20 century) by Gyan museumDastkari Haat Samiti

The removable buttons of a kurta, made with diamonds and corals are a part of the collector’s personal possessions.

Jewellery of Rajasthan: Gyan Museum (Early 20 century) by Gyan museumDastkari Haat Samiti

The collector’s personal manicure kit, which he carried on most of his travels.

Jewellery of Rajasthan: Gyan museum collection (2018-03) by Gyan museumDastkari Haat Samiti

The personal collection of Gyan Chand Dhadda speaks a lot about not only his love for art but his knowledge and admiration for Indian artistry and culture. In the increasing trend of old jewellery being melted down to make new ornaments to keep up with changing taste and fashion, he preserved the originality of old gold and silver pieces. To celebrate his life and collection, his sons, Suresh and Anil Dhaddha, built the Gyan Museum in 2014. The museum is located in Sitapura Industrial Area of Jaipur, Rajasthan. 

Jewellery of Rajasthan: Gyan Museum (20 century) by Gyan museumDastkari Haat Samiti

The museum houses over 2500 artefacts ranging from jewellery, textile, watches, paintings, pottery, ancient scriptures, medieval-age coins to an array of arms and ammunition, which date back 3000 years.

Jewellery of Rajasthan: Gyan Museum by Gyan museumDastkari Haat Samiti

The museum has inspired fresh collections based on the traditional exhibits and even some variations.

The naturally formed motif of a four-leaf clover found on an old and rare piece of Sulemani agate has been used as the logo for the museum.

Gyan Chand Dhaddha wore this in the form of a pendant for most of his life, making it an apt way of paying a tribute to a visionary jeweller.

Jewellery of Rajasthan: Gyan museum collection (19 - 20 century) by Gyan museumDastkari Haat Samiti

Gyan museum as it stands today is an experience in itself. The architecture and interiors are elegant and compliment the array of exhibits. Designed by French designer Paul Mathieu, the museum has controlled lighting and intelligently designed displays, almost as if the artefacts were placed first and a structure created around them. Such is the sense of effortlessness which this tastefully designed museum provides.

Jewellery of Rajasthan: Gyan museum collection (19 century) by Gyan museumDastkari Haat Samiti

On display: Home Decor from around the world

Close up image of an Iranian carpet.

Jewellery of Rajasthan: Gyan museum collection (19 century) by Gyan museumDastkari Haat Samiti

A 19th century portable wooden desk decorated with an intricate inlaid ivory design.

Jewellery of Rajasthan: Gyan museum collection (19 century) by Gyan museumDastkari Haat Samiti

Side view of a wooden jewellery box.

Jewellery of Rajasthan: Gyan Museum (19 century) by Gyan museumDastkari Haat Samiti

The 19th century handcrafted jade plaque which the collector obtained from China.

It is embellished with decorative motifs of plants and animals, depicting a forest.

Jade is generally found in green but the one found in China is usually available in different shades of white.

Jewellery of Rajasthan: Gyan museum collection (17 - 20 century) by Gyan museumDastkari Haat Samiti

A collection of elaborately designed handfans.

Jewellery of Rajasthan: Gyan Museum (18 century) by Gyan museumDastkari Haat Samiti

A beautifully enamelled box carved with emeralds and uncut diamonds demonstrates the technique of enamelling.

Introduced by Europeans, it was widely practiced during the Mughal era.

Jewellery of Rajasthan: Gyan Museum (18 century) by Gyan museumDastkari Haat Samiti

On display: Artifacts of Worship

Jewellery of Rajasthan: Gyan Museum (19 century) by Gyan museumDastkari Haat Samiti

Gangaur idols, which represent the Hindu deities Shiv and Parvati, are decked with jewellery and clothes with elaborate gota, gold-ribbon work.

These wooden dolls form a significant part of Rajasthan’s culture and are worshipped by married or soon-to-be married women to celebrate the union of two persons.

Every year, members of the collector’s family come to the museum to worship these dolls on the day of the Gangaur festival.

Jewellery of Rajasthan: Gyan Jewels (2018-01) by Gyan JewelsDastkari Haat Samiti

A small temple made of ebony wood, emerald, gold and diamonds is a reflection of traditional values and the religious influences that are part of people’s lives.

Jewellery of Rajasthan: Gyan Museum (18 century) by Gyan museumDastkari Haat Samiti

A beautiful miniature painting of the Hindu goddess Lakshmi is adorned with basra pearls and executed in natural pigments.

The 18th century painting called the 'Adoration of Lakshmi' is set in a silver frame presenting a bygone era of heavy ornamentation, rich textiles and beautifully decorated surroundings.

Jewellery of Rajasthan: Gyan Museum (18 - 19 century) by Gyan museumDastkari Haat Samiti

On display: traditional jewellery from Rajasthan and around India 

Jewellery of Rajasthan: Gyan Museum (19 century) by Gyan museumDastkari Haat Samiti

A collection of gold jewellery, which dates back to 17th century, encloses history, heritage and memories within its gilded layers.

Jewellery of Rajasthan: Gyan Museum (19 century) by Gyan museumDastkari Haat Samiti

A Rajasthani bride is never considered complete without a tevta. A tevta is an elaborate bridal necklace worn by Rajasthani brides and is said to have originated among the royal families of Bikaner and Jodhpur.

A classic tevta design is composed of glass beads, rock crystal on foil, with the roundels on both side and a jhaler, a metallic net pattern made of small gold pieces.

Jewellery of Rajasthan: Gyan Museum (18 - 19 century) by Gyan museumDastkari Haat Samiti

A decorative emerald box placed with a wooden bangle adorned with pearls and uncut diamonds.

In earlier times such wooden bangles were worn by a quintessential Rajasthan bride on her upper arms.

Jewellery of Rajasthan: Gyan Museum (19 century) by Gyan museumDastkari Haat Samiti

An elaborate jhoomar passa, made of gold and kundan and semi-precious stones.

Passa is worn on the side of the forehead. Its luxuriant design demonstrates the strong Mughal influence on Rajasthan’s jewellery of medieval times.

Kundan is a distinct technique of stone setting where a gold foil is inserted between the gem and its mount.

Jewellery of Rajasthan: Gyan Museum (17 - 18 century) by Gyan museumDastkari Haat Samiti

A collection of gold jewellery decorated with enamel. Enamelling is the technique of filling colors in the design formed by moulded metallic wires.

It also serves as a parameter to test the purity of the precious metal.

The jewellers of Mughal court combined sophisticated Indian motifs and colours to produce one of the finest specimens of enamelling in the world. This technique is locally called minakari.

Jewellery of Rajasthan: Gyan Museum (17 - 19 century) by Gyan museumDastkari Haat Samiti

A pair of gold bangles embedded with uncut diamond and an aesthetic composition of red, blue and green enamel.

Jewellery of Rajasthan: Gyan Museum (18 - 19 century) by Gyan museumDastkari Haat Samiti

A collection of jewellery made of basra pearls with classic red, blue and green enamel.

Jewellery of Rajasthan: Gyan Museum (19 century) by Gyan museumDastkari Haat Samiti

A 19th century thewa neckpiece set in gold and glass. Thewa is a 500 years old technique of jewellery making in which intricately carved golden designs are set on the surface of glass.

Jewellery of Rajasthan: Gyan Museum (18 - 19 century) by Gyan museumDastkari Haat Samiti

Two pairs of tribal earrings form a significant part of traditional Assamese jewellery called Thuria. Their design is inspired from local flora and fauna.

An interesting feature of these earrings is the thick stem which is worn by tribal women with big holes in their earlobes as was the practice in their societies.

Jewellery of Rajasthan: Gyan Museum (18 - 19 century) by Gyan museumDastkari Haat Samiti

Close up of tribal gold and ruby earrings.

Jewellery of Rajasthan: Gyan Museum (19 century) by Gyan museumDastkari Haat Samiti

A man’s necklace called a hasli is made of hair-thin gold wire.

Jewellery of Rajasthan: Gyan Museum (20 century) by Gyan museumDastkari Haat Samiti

A flawless 25-carat blue sapphire set in a frame of diamonds.

Jewellery of Rajasthan: Gyan Museum (20 century) by Gyan museumDastkari Haat Samiti

A beautiful necklace made of natural ruby beads from Burma. Its striking feature is the design and craftsmanship of its gold and diamond clasp.

The elaborate detailing in that part of a necklace which is usually not seen, makes it noteworthy.

Jewellery of Rajasthan: Gyan Museum (19 century) by Gyan museumDastkari Haat Samiti

A string of tumbled spinel beads from Sri Lanka has kundan work on its clasp.

Jewellery of Rajasthan: Gyan Museum (19 century) by Gyan museumDastkari Haat Samiti

The two intricately carved and embellished sword clasps from Kashmir tells the tale of times when the ornamentation of a sword clasp would indicate the rank and prosperity of the owner.

Jewellery of Rajasthan: Gem Plaza Jewellery (2018-03) by Gem PlazaDastkari Haat Samiti

Credits: Story

Text: Rashmi Sacher, Jaya Jaitly
Photography: Chirodeep Chaudhuri
Artisans: Craftspersons at Gem Plaza workshop
Ground Facilitator: Harneet Pabbla, Rashmi Sacher
Documentary Video: Chirodeep Chaudhuri
Curation: Ruchira Verma

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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