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Mesmerising miniatures

B. Kotaiah
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A miniature from the odes of Mohammed Quli Qutub Shah.
A miniature from the odes of Mohammed Quli Qutub Shah.

Salar Jung Museum is home to around 8,500 manuscripts and 47,000 printed books, collected by Salar Jung

In the 8,500 manuscripts and among 368 holy Qurans, is a rare copy of a holy book which has been autographed by three Mughal emperors -- Jahangir, Shajahan and Aurangazeb -- written in Naskh script by Yaqut-ul-Mustasmi, the court scribe of last Abbasid Caliph, Mustasim Billah. This manuscript is rated as a masterpiece of Mesopotamian illumination and calligraphy. The first two folios of these manuscripts are embellished in gold and are finely painted. It was written in 1283 AD.

Though highly rated and proudly cherished, this is not the only Quran the museum possesses. The oldest and estimable is a Quran written on parchment in kufic script and dated to 9th century.

However, the best of the lot in terms of art and beauty are a hundred and more illustrated and illuminated works written by well-known calligraphers and glittering with paintings done by Persian, Mughal, Deccan, Rajput and Pahari artists and others. Of these, the most memorable is ‘Rouzat-ul-Mohibbin’ (garden of lovers), a collection of Persian poems enriched by 20 glorious paintings done by Persian painters of the famous Behzad school. Behzad, a Persian painter of 15th century, was acclaimed as the ‘Raphael of the East’.

The library is also fortunate to have a manuscript containing the odes of the fifth Golconda king Mohammed Quli Qutb Shah (1580-1612), founder of the Hyderabad city. It is in Daccani Urdu and displays eight miniatures of early period.

A rare hand written occidental book is a prayer book in Gothic language dated 1456 AD. It has 197 folios which include 17 miniatures of rare beauty and charm.

In the printed occidental section the oldest printed book is ‘The General History Of The Turks’ published in 1631 AD. About 8,000 printed volumes deal with history and 6,000 concern with literature. Interesting are memoirs of travels which are old and informative.

B. Kotaiah

Dep. Keeper (Retd.)

Salarjung Museum

The Salar Jung Museum library has a manuscript containing the odes of Mohammed Quli Qutb Shah, founder of Hyderabad


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