Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Jewelled Arts of India

[Sunday April 11]--  On Sunday last Elaine and I visited the Asian Civilisations Museum (ACM) of Singapore.  A special exhibit was on display of jeweled artwork from the Mughal period of India (1526 to 1857).  The Islamic Mughal Empire first ruled northern India, and in its middle period, expanded to include southern India, although this region was rarely a stable member of the empire.  The British effectively put an end to the empire when they imprisoned the ruling Shah in 1857 after a series of uprisings threatened the stability of their trade.
As we learned from the exhibit, the Mughars were strong patrons of the arts (except for the third emperor, Shah Jahan, who was largely responsible for the decline of the empire).  This period brought a strong Persian influence on literary, architectural, and artisan culture to India.  The exhibit included amazing jeweled artifacts and jewelry, using mounting and gold work unique to this region.
A large number of the exhibit artifacts were daggers or swords--  perhaps a good indication of the state of affairs and life in the Mughar Empire at this time.

Asian Civilisations Museum, Singapore

Jeweled daggar from the Mughar period, Damascus steel

Jewelled sword hilts and sceptar

A gold embellished cup.  Although this vessel appears to be glass, it is actually carved from a solid piece of quartz.

Siimilarly, the grip from a sword, carved from quartz.

Jewelled bowls and containers.  Again, made from carved quartz.

A large carved emerald, inlaid with gold and embedded topaz.  Emeralds are not found in India--  this was likely from South America, brought to Indian artisans by trade with the Portugese.

A bowl, carved from jade

A jeweled carp

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