Over the past 25 years, Ajit Gadgil, founder of Zapurza, has been carefully collecting a wide variety of gold & silver jewellery and articles, with his discerning eye. On many an occasion, it anguished him to see people disposing exquisite jewellery of antique value, to smelting works, in distress sale. He started to salvage them & thus began a unique journey of collecting.
The Gallery explores our relationship with Jewellery, in the larger context of the materiality of Gold & Silver, latent in our collective unconscious, and ways in which it finds expression in physical objects, history, mythology, religion and culture.
From time immemorial, the precious metals have been part of our life as adornments, in rituals & cultural expression, in pomp & glory, and as means to secure our future. It has also been equated with aspirational qualities of excellence, beauty, purity and perfection.
According to the Chandogya Upanishad, from the dark void, emerged the primal egg ‘Hiranyagarbha’, which broke open into silver and golden shells. The silver part became the earth, & the golden part became the heaven. This is the Vedic representation of Gold & Silver.
Gold representing light or the sun, being identical to fire or brilliant energy, truth, prestige, royalty, of purity and incorruptibility; is regarded as a symbol of life and human spirit.
The references to gold objects and jewellery found in the mythology of Ramayana, is very much alive in public imagination. From discovery of Sita with a golden plough, to Sita’s jewellery while she was abducted, and many more instances, the story affirms the antiquity of golden jewellery & value of gold.
Indian history is replete with references of use of gold in all its glory. We find beginnings of Indian jewellery in sculptures of Harappa, Gupta period, and in the lifestyle of the royalty of Buddhist era, well depicted in the cave paintings of Ajanta.
With the long Mughal rule, we find integration of new influences and techniques in the craft, a newfound patronage of kings and royalty, bringing new impetus to the activity. The articles were made to fulfil the needs of luxury and entertainment.
From exquisite silver articles used in objects of worship & devotion, to adorning and entertaining the child, we find a variety of forms of delicately crafted jewellery to bring out the facets of a woman’s beauty or the strength of a man’s character.
In the adornments of the indigenous, pastoral & tribal people, there is a rustic quality, with strong deep-rooted forms and robust design.
The varied collection from various parts of India, spanning almost 200 years, highlights the skills, passion and dedication of the craftsmen who created these objects.
The tradition of craft remained alive through many generations, adapting to materials, new techniques and technology, cultural influences and changing needs of the users, finding innovative, creative expression. The use of various forms and motifs reflect the changing mores and trends.
After the diminishing patronage of kings and benefactors, few visionary, enlightened families and their establishments, supported these activities.
Story of Colonial Silver
The Colonial establishment was quick to discern the exquisite skills of the local crafts persons. They used these resources to explore and repurpose them for the needs of elite British & European users. They studied and documented the crafts and resources systematically and started showing them to the western users.
The gallery highlights some works from these regions of pre-independent India and their associated styles, like Karimnagar, Hyderabad; Tarkasi Odissa; Swami style Madras; Art Deco Kashmir; Kutch Gujarat; Poona Silver; & Burma, each having their own speciality, evident in the objects on display.
The crafts & skills of jewellery traditions were passed on in a non-institutional system of apprentice learning. All long, it has been common people with humble backgrounds who created these extra ordinary objects of beauty and value for everyone, whether it be the kings and noblemen or the common people, with the same creative abilities and response.
We hope you enjoy the experience and appreciate the enormous contribution of the many, anonymous craft persons, of many generations, who have enriched and enhanced our lives with their unfaltering devotion to their craft in pursuit of excellence and beauty.