The Salar Jung Museum is noted for its collection of Mughal jades
Jade objects in a museum attract visitors as a rule. Jade is a rough, hard and tough stone. And a long process is involved in removing the layers of the stone to make it smooth. Chinese value jade a lot. Jade is mostly mined in Burma.
The stone consists of three types of minerals: jadeite, nephrite and chloromenalite. Jadeite is the hardest and, naturally, the brightest. Its colour range is diverse, green being the most sought-after. Nephrite has a tint of green, and some times white, gray, ivory and yellow. Chloromenalite is mostly dark green.
Mughal emperors were fond of collecting Jade objects. Milky white nephrite and opaque green jade were skilfully carved by Mughal craftsmen into bowls, wine cups, mirror backs, dagger and sword handles, huqqa bases and flywhisk handles.
The Salar Jung museum has a number of Mughal jades. An earliest object is a dark-green jade book stand with white marble dots and striking architectural designs.
Besides book stands, there are a number of mirror-backs with carvings of floral motifs and pierced decorations from the 17th century.
A singular contribution of Mughal craftsman to jade craft is the liberal use of gold and precious stones like ruby and emerald in the form of flowers, birds and leaves.
A green jade trinket box with gold inserts, which belongs the 17th century, is a marvellous piece. A white jade leaf-shaped tray with the veins showing is a fine example of the jade carver’s talent.
Two outstanding objects are an exquisite emerald and ruby fruit knife of Noor-Jehan and Emperor Jahangir’s hunting knife encrusted with rubies, emeralds and diamonds.
Also, the museum possesses a number of swords and daggers fitted with hilts of life-like heads of animals set with precious stones.