Toronto: Artist Reena Ahluwalia has released intricate, bedazzling paintings of the Maharaja and Maharani of Mysore. Now, the Royal Mysore paintings have been acquired by C. Krishniah Chetty Crystal Museum – a private, by-appointment museum in Bengaluru, India. In Royal Mysore paintings, Ahluwalia captures the opulence of the past and etches the historic legacy of Indian gems and jewelry onto canvas. The paintings celebrate an unbroken jewelry heritage and the enduring significance these gems retain in the tapestry of Indian culture.
The paintings were years in the making, an outcome of Ahluwalia’s extensive research into jewelry history, coupled with a lifetime dedicated to crafting jewelry art. Ahluwalia said, “I have painted the bejeweled Maharaja and Maharani with diamond-clad bodies. It’s a nudge, really – a reminder that we are the heroes of our own lives, as resilient and luminous as the diamonds and gemstones. I hope that my art not only serves as a historic record, but also opens a portal to self-reflection and empowerment, reminding viewers of their unique worth and inner brilliance.”
The Royal Mysore paintings are now part of the C. Krishniah Chetty Crystal Museum’s permanent collection. The museum is one-of-its-kind, showcasing the art, gems, and jewelry history from Deccan and Carnatic regions in Central and South India. It celebrates the lasting 150-year legacy of C. Krishniah Chetty Jewellers, who left an indelible mark as jewellers for over twenty-one royal kingdoms in India, including the Kingdom of Mysore. Dr. C. Vinod Hayagriv, a renowned art connoisseur and a celebrated figure in the Indian jewelry industry, acquired the paintings for the museum.
Dr. C. Vinod Hayagriv, Managing Director, Director, as well as a gemologist of the C. Krishniah Chetty Group, said, “Being the last person with interest in the illustrious history of our business, it was time to record and share the events and experiences the family has gone through over our now sesquicentennial journey. During our travels, we come across magnificent gems, and Reena’s exquisite paintings immediately caught my attention. Over time, I collected a few of her paintings. The two Royal Mysore paintings were commissioned by me and are now proudly displayed in the Crystal Museum Salon.”
The large-scale paintings capture the jewelry of the Maharaja (King) and Maharani (Queen) of the Royal Kingdom of Mysore. Once worn by royalty, these gems and jewels are now scattered across museums and auctions, others lost, melted or recycled. Reflecting the aspirations of Mysore’s rulers, each gemstone had a deeper symbolism. Golconda diamonds symbolized invincibility and purity, Spinels from Badakhshan and Burmese rubies signified passion and courage, Colombian emeralds represented renewal and growth, and Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) sapphires stood for wisdom and truth. Pearls came from the Persian Gulf and were greatly valued.
The Royal Mysore paintings in the museum ensure their legacy and provide a glimpse into India’s gem and jewelry history for future generations. For Ahluwalia, it’s the realization of her dream, witnessing the impactful legacy she envisioned for these paintings.