Home to exquisitely-crafted jewellery and heirloom bejewelled objects, Amrapali Museum in Jaipur is a haven of all things glittery yet traditional. By Bayar Jain
The sheer volume of crafts and cultures in India can prove to be a challenge to experience. At Amrapali Museum, one can get a peek into this legacy of India’s fascinating craftsmanship, while learning about traditional jewelled artefacts, heirloom textiles embellished with gold and silver, and more.
For founders Rajiv Arora and Rajesh Ajmera, the collection on display at Amrapali Museum is a labour of love, a journey that began nearly forty years ago as college friends. The inception of the Amrapali came about due to a collective love for art and all things handcrafted. Their hometown Jaipur, where the museum stands now, also had a big role to play in their decision. They took inspiration from the city’s history with ‘industrial arts’—as the crafts were known in the 19th and 20th centuries—and also travelled through the nation to explore and learn more about traditional art and craft.
During their travels, the two interacted with other jewellery enthusiasts and expert silversmiths. While thoughts of starting a collection—let alone a museum!— never crossed their minds, Arora and Ajmera soon started to understand the value of their pursuit. They observed that common pieces were becoming rarer over the years, and with westernisation and changing tastes, the appreciation for indigenous design and craftsmanship began to wane.
Their business enterprise, Amrapali Jewels—established in 1978—was done with a purpose to address this issue. Over the years, the internationally-acclaimed jewellery brand has regularly used the collections gathered by its founders to take inspiration for their modern offerings; an initiative that is increasingly being credited as the brand’s USP.
Arora and Ajmera, however, felt more was to be done: to share their collection with scholars, students, connoisseurs and other visitors to Jaipur, as well as to highlight India’s traditional silver jewelled arts. And thus, Amrapali Museum was born this year.
Amrapali Museum Today
The collection at Amrapali Museum showcases the rich heritage of Indian handicraft. You can see exquisite jewellery; silver objects like spittoons, rosewater sprinklers, paan sets, plates, tea sets; and boxes of varying shapes and sizes. Personal accessories also find a space in the museum. Think something as small as a toothpick or elaborately made silver shoe covers. The shining glory, however, is a chariot covered with silver.
Unlike most other institutions—and keeping in mind the founders’ vision of sparking awareness, interest, and providing opportunities for scholarship—the Reserve Collections will be in a visual store. In doing so, everything will be available for visitors to see.