Indian jewels off Mughal mastery dazzle Paris
Visitors to the Louvre can now marvel at the mastery of the Indian craftsmen at a stunning exhibition of jewelled arts of the Mughals.india Updated: Jul 15, 2006 10:15 IST
England's first ambassador to the 17th century Mughal court was so bedazzled by the riches and jewels he found that he wrote home that Emperor Jahangir presided over the "treasury of the world."
Now 21st century visitors to the Louvre have a chance to marvel at the mastery of the Indian craftsmen of yesteryear at a stunning exhibition of jewelled arts from the age of the Mughals.
Some 300 outstanding pieces from the extensive private collection of Sheikh Nasser Sabah el-Ahmad Al-Sabah, a member of the Kuwaiti ruling family, are getting their last European showing in Paris before returning to the Kuwait national museum.
The Mughals ruled much of the Indian sub-continent from 1526 to 1707 in a vast empire which at its height stretched into parts of Afghanistan and Iran.
At the time, India was the only known source of diamonds until they were discovered in Brazil in the 18th century, and the mastery of its craftsmen was unrivalled.
But unlike other branches of art, Indian jewellery has been little studied, and it quickly came to fascinate the sheikh, who began collecting Islamic art objects in the mid-1970s, building up one of the most comprehensive collections in the world.
"Treasury of the World" presents just one part of the collection, but as Sheikh Nasser explains, "it is the art of Indian jewellery which has attracted me and driven me to explore its dimensions.