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Treasury of the World: Jewelled Arts of India in the Age of the Moguls - British Museum

In May I was, once again, at the British Museum this time to see Treasury of the World: Jewelled Arts of India in the Age of the Moguls: a fabulous collection of jewels and jewelled objects d'art from Islamic India amassed by Sheikh Nasser al-Sabah of Kuwait. The world flocked to the 17th Century Persian-speaking Mogul court which was under the rule of the Muslim princes: Portuguese Jesuits Laden with copies of the Bible and pious engravings (not that they made any religious converts!!); court painters of illuminated manuscripts in the style of the Dutch and German painters; artists in Chinese porcelain and Venetian glass.

Mogul artists seemed equally at ease with the shapes and motifs from every culture. The adapted the form of western sailor's travelling trunk with an arched lid to make a minute jewel casket of just about one inch long with ruby stones covering the gold body was beautiful. A unique covered bowl and its presentation tray decorated with anemone buds, the blossoms seem to explode outward on the tray whilst converging towards the lotus bud finial on the dome-shaped cover.

The anemone is a flower, which appears to feature very much in their work. One of their exquisitely decorated daggers was coated with carmine red anemones enhanced by emerald green leaves on a milk-white ground. There is an "inkwell and pen-case" designed for imperial use in pale translucent jade covered with gold-inlaid panels that enclose tiny ruby and emerald anemones. Another dagger is carved from brittle walrus ivory that came to Hindustan from Siberia, through Central Asia and Iran, its handle topped by the head of a lioness baring its fangs. Some of the most beautiful archers' rings in the world can be seen, case in silver and plated with paper-thin gold foil inlaid with deep purple blossoms and emerald green enamels. Simply Gorgeous!!

 

Verinha Ottoni.




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