Saturday, February 22, 2014

The Mughal Empire in Gold and Gems

Crown of the Emperor Bahadur Shah II (the last Mughal emperor). 1850. Gold, turquoises, rubies, diamonds, pearls, emeralds, feathers and velvet
The Mughals were descendants of the Central Asian conqueror Timur (known in the West as Tamerlane) and the Mongol ruler, Genghis Khan. The Mughal Empire, which at its peak spanned modern-day India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, was established by Zahiruddin Muhammad Babur, who invaded India in 1526.

The Mughals ruled for over three centuries before the arrival of the British in 1858.

Carved emerald circular box. Mughal India circa 1635. An identical cypress is carved on each panel.

The Mughals' appreciation for beauty is evident. Treasures were encrusted with rubies, diamonds and emeralds and set in gold using the kundan technique, a typically Indian method of setting gemstones without the use of bezels and prongs.
Turban ornament. 1700-1750. Wearing plumes in a turban indicated royal status in Mughal India. Nephrite jade, gold inset with rubies, emeralds, probably topaz, with gold foil, rock crystal and pearl.

Kundan set eagle pendant. Rubies, diamonds, pearls, enamel.
Mughal parrot finger ring (c.1600–1625) with a three-dimensional bird that can rotate and bob. It is set with rubies, emeralds, diamonds and a single sapphire.

Bird Finger Ring (1st quarter of the 17th century). Gold, rubies, emeralds, turquoises; carving, kundan technique
Pendant in the form of an eagle, 18th century. Gold, cast and chased, set with foiled diamonds, rubies, emeralds, and sapphires in gold kundan.

Gold and enamel belt buckle in two pieces with inlaid diamonds. Enamel decoration on reverse of tiger attacking a boar. Rectangular element with small round ring through which oblong ring fits. Hook is attached to this. Enamel tiger attacking a deer in foliage on reverse.
Gold, pearl, ruby, diamond and enamel squatting duck on a stand.

Gold and enamel figurine of an elephant with large natural baroque pearl forming its back and diamonds on its head.
A carved emerald flask with stopper, India, circa 18th century. The body of faceted hexagonal form, cut and carved on each face with a floral stem, the stopper carved with eight stylised leaves and a star design to the top.

Dress archery ring of Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan. Second quarter of the 17th century. Gold set with carved and polished uncut diamonds, rubies and emeralds.
An Imperial Mughal spinel necklace with eleven polished baroque spinels for a total weight of 1,131.59 carats. Three of the spinels are engraved. Two with the name of Emperor Jahangir (1569-1627), one with the three names of Emperor Jahangir, Emperor Shah Jahan and Emperor Alamgir, also known as Aurangzeb.

Portrait of Mumtaz Mahal (Arjumand Banu Begum). She was the favourite wife of the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan. She died shortly after giving birth to her fourteenth child in 1631. The following year the emperor began work on the mausoleum that would house her body. The result was the world-famous Taj Mahal.
A Mughal masterpiece. The necklace features five pendant Golconda diamonds with emerald drops. The central stone weighs 28 carats and is the largest table-cut diamond known. The five surrounding stones—weighing 96 carats, collectively—comprise the largest known matching set of table-cut diamonds. From the 17th century.

A rare Mughal pale green jadeite snuff bottle. 1800-1840. The translucent stone is of pale icy green tone. 2 in. (5 cm.) high, pink tourmaline stopper and bone spoon.

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