The word silehkhana is derived from Persian, where sileh stands for ‘weapons’ and khana means ‘a place of storage’. The silehkhana was a prominent karkhana (department) among the 36 karkhanas of the Jaipur court. It was concerned with the manufacture, purchase, storage and upkeep of the royal arms and armour. The silehkhana played an important role in fulfilling the requirements of the army. The armoury has always been an important aspect of the state and sources from the 17th century refer to it as shastrashala. Later, it was commonly known as the silehkhana.
The silehkhana of the museum has one of the largest and finest collections of weapons and antique handguns in India. The weapons include various kinds of swords, double edged cutters, daggers, knives, axes and arrows of various shapes. There are three types of guns in the collection – the matchlock, the flintlock and the percussion cap. Some of the swords in the collection are of historic importance, such as the swords inscribed with the name of Mughal emperors, Jahangir and Shah Jahan. In medieval times, weapons were regarded as prestigious gifts and the Mughal swords were probably gifted to the rulers of Amber-Jaipur. Many personal weapons of the rulers of like Maharaja Sawai Ram Singh II, Maharaja Sawai Madho Singh II etc are also a part of the collection.
The silehkhana depicts the excellent craftsmanship of not only the Jaipur metal workers but also its artisans. The hilts of swords and knives are usually made of ivory, silver, crystal or jade carved in various forms. Many weapons are adorned with precious and semi-precious stones. Others have enamelling work on them – a craft which has been a speciality of Jaipur. Many weapons also have beautiful koftgari work on them. The gunpowder flasks made of animal horn, leather and seashell are inlaid with delicately carved ivory and decorated with engraved motifs. The shields made of tough rhinoceros, tortoise and buffalo hides and have been embossed, lacquer painted at times. The body armour and helmets are also specimens of fine workmanship.
The ceiling of the silehkhana gallery has fine murals and mirror work. Its intricate floral patterns, female figures in various moods and poses represent the Jaipur painting of the early 19th century.