My three favorite exhibits in the museums of Hyderabad all had striking, eyecatching characteristics that I had never seen before in any of the museums I have previously visited around the world. The first, pictured above is an unbelievably delicate marble statue carved in 1876 by a Milanese sculptor, G.B Benzoni of Milan. The subject is a figure from the Old Testament, Rebekah, and it is supposed to represent the moment she meets her bridegroom, Isaac, the son of Abraham.
I marveled at the skill of Benzoni to so clearly depict the demure expression of Rebekah with lowered eyes and her hand at her throat – I could almost see the bride-to-be blushing. But what floored me was the veil – how could it actually look diaphanous since it was carved out of stone? From the top of her head to the graceful folds at the near her feet, the veil seemed to gently sway with an invisible breeze:
Interestingly, after I wrote this draft I came upon an article about 15 of the most astonishingly lifelike marble sculptures which happen to include a few veiled ones which are as captivating as the Veiled Rebekah – see below:
This is one of the things I love most about travel – it not only exposes me to new things I never would have known but also continues to expand my knowledge long after the trip is over.
This next statue is clearly a one of a kind. Or should I say a two of a kind. Called the “Double Statue of Mephistopheles & Margaretta,” the sculpture is carved out of a single log of sycamore wood and has two distinct images on either side. With a strategically placed mirror you can see both as the same time.
The sculpture is based on the story of Faust, by Goethe. The leering visage of Mephistopheles is perfectly offset by the sweet, innocent demure look of Margaretta as she holds a prayer book. Very Gothic. So unique!
Last but not least is this:
This is an all gold lunchbox, or tiffin, encrusted with diamonds but otherwise similar in form only to the tiffins that the dabbawallas of Mumbai transport back and forth from home to office and back. It belonged to the last Nizam and comes with a fascinating story. Thieves broke into the Nizam Museum and stole the tiffin along with other gold artifacts in September, 2018. The thieves secreted the pieces to Mumbai, where they hoped to sell them. However, there wasn’t any demand for gold encrusted tiffins !!!. Some reports state that the thieves actually ate from the tiffins but eventually returned to Hyderabad where the police captured them. Here are some news blurbs of the time which infer that the jewels that adorned the tiffins had been removed – no doubt for easier selling capabilities.
After recovery of the pieces, the security of the Nizam Museum was heavily upgraded.