Museum objects, artifacts, and archival items from the Sarmaya collection.

Jahangir, Silver Rupee (Rupiya) of Patna Mint

This coin was minted in Patna with an ‘Alam Panah’ couplet. It reads ‘Shahe Nooruddin Jahangir, Ibn Akbar Badshah, Sikka e zad dar shahera patna, Khushru e Alampanah’. Jahangir took a keen interest in coinage, minting some of the best specimens from the Mughal period. His reign saw a vast variety of coinage. He popularised… Read more »

Devaraya I, Vijayanagara, Copper Kasu

The coins of the Vijayanagara Empire had ushered in a new era for numismatics in South India. Most of the coins of this period were modeled on their predecessors, like those of the Hoysalas. The coinage of Devaraya I and Devaraya II are similar in design and legends. The obverse of this copper coin bears… Read more »

Akbar, Silver

After 1585 AD Akbar notably removed the inscription of the ‘Kalima’, the Mohammadan profession of faith, from the face of coins issued by him. Coins issued in this later period belonged to the Illahi Era, as they bore the Illahi credo ‘Allah hu Akbar Jalla Jalaalah’ (God is great, may His glory be glorified). He… Read more »

Aurangazeb, Silver

Aurangzeb Alamgir forbade the use of the Kalima on coins, as he did not want it be defiled by usage. However, he did keep the tradition of inscribing couplets on Imperial coins. This silver coin bears the “Mihir-e-Munir” couplet on the reverse, which reads “SIKKA-ZAD DAR-JAHAN MEHRE MUNIR SHAH AURANGZEB ALAMGIR”. In English this translates… Read more »

Tirumalaraya, Aravidu Dynasty, Copper Jital

This is a very fine coin struck during the reign of Tirumalaraya/ Tirumala Deva Raya who was the first crowned king of the Vijayanagara Empire from the Aravidu Dynasty. He retained many of the Vijayanagara territories despite having to engage with multiple feuds during his reign and assumed the title “Reviver of the Decadent Karnataka… Read more »

Muhammad Bin Tughlaq, Copper, Tanka

Muhammad Bin Tughlaq introduced copper currency when there was a shortage of gold and silver. He well understood the importance of token currency, and therefore appointed a minister to ensure no counterfeiting took place. However, this scheme proved problematic as the coins bore no royal seals and only inscriptions of new coin usage. Copper currency… Read more »

Krishna Raja Wodeyar, Copper, 5 Cash, Type III

The Wodeyars of Mysore issued a number of copper coins in various denominations. The obverse of this copper coin issued by Krishna Raja Wodeyar depicts a caparisoned elephant with the Kanarese numeral one. On the reverse a three-line Kanarese legend and the lettering “5 Cash” – denoting the denomination, but has worn off.

Krishna Leela

This Odisha Pattachitra by Akshaya Kumar Bariki illustrates Krishna Leela. The middle panel features Krishna and Radha in an embrace. As Odisha Pattachitras were traditionally used as personal home shrines, the central icons are always larger and primary. This is followed by supporting stories and images around them, which are smaller in size to symbolise… Read more »

Vima Kadphises, Copper Coin

The Kushanas or Kouei Shuang were the descendants of the ancient Central Asiatic clan of Yueh-chi. They ruled parts of the Bactrian region (Afghanistan and Tajikistan) in the early 1st Century CE. What makes this coin special is that it shows the syncretic spirit of this empire and offers evidence of the king’s assimilation with… Read more »

Tholu Bommalata: Hanuman and Lankini

Tholu Bommalata tradition of shadow puppetry dates back to 12th century Andhra Pradesh; in Telugu, tholu is hide or leather and bommalata means ‘dance of the dolls’. Gleaming through the screen in night-long performances, these puppets are used to narrate stories from epics like Ramayana and Mahabharata. Tholu Bommalata performances often weave bits of popular… Read more »

Map of India in 1022

This map depicts geographical features and the distribution of various Hindu dynasties in India in 1022. In the north-west, the Ghaznavid Empire was at its zenith under Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni (971 – 1030), who crossed the river Indus and plundered India seventeen times during the course of his reign. The map was published in… Read more »

Map of Hindoostan divided into Soubahs

This early 19th century map illustrates the division of Hindustan into ‘soubahs’, or administrative provinces, as listed in the late 16th century Mughal text, the Ain-i-Akbari. The map’s legend distinguishes Hindustan proper, the plains of northern India under the rule and administration of the Mughal Emperor Akbar, from the independent Deccan. In the South, the… Read more »

Cashmere Gate by Felice Beato

The Sarmaya collection holds an extensive range of Felice Beato’s work depicting the aftermath of the Uprising of 1857 in places like Delhi, Lucknow and Kanpur, which bore the brunt of the violence. The devastation of Kashmere Gate in Delhi was one of the landmark moments that marked the beginning of the revolution’s end. Felice… Read more »

Some Years Travels into Africa and Asia the Great

This is a mid-17th-century travelogue by historian Thomas Herbert, who chronicles his journey to the Middle- East, Asia and Africa with particular emphasis on the empires of Persia and India during the 17th century. Thomas Herbert (1606-1682) was a courtier to Charles I (1600-1649). He travelled to the court of Shah Abbas (1571-1629) of Persia… Read more »

A Narrative of the Military Operations on the Coromandel Coast

This rare book from late 18th century offers a look at the different kingdoms that were part of the highly strategic and viciously fought Anglo-Mysore wars. It includes 18 letters from 1779 to 1784 covering the British Army’s operations in India, as well as several illustrations of the Isle of France, and charts. Maps include… Read more »