This spectacular turban ornament (sarpech) consists of a jigha, a feather-shaped upper part worn vertically, and a sarpati, worn horizontally. At the Mughal court, a turban ornament was bestowed as a symbol of favour, a convention that spread throughout the subcontinent. The style of this piece is typical of Murshidabad and was given to Admiral Charles Watson by the ruler, Nawab Mir Jafar, in July 1757.
The reverse of this spectacular turban ornament (sarpech) is ornamented with enamelled gold. The style of this piece is typical of Murshidabad and was given to Admiral Charles Watson by the ruler, Nawab Mir Jafar, in July 1757.
The richly dressed Maharaja is enthroned on a gaddi (throne) under a canopy and smoking a hookah. Behind him an attendant holds a morchhal (peacock feather fan), a symbol of royal authority. Textiles were used to create royal splendour in various settings, in this instance in a lush garden. The strong colours and bold composition are typical of Rajput painting.
In India a ruler sat on a gaddi, a richly embroidered textile and bolster which constituted the seat of power and was the focal point of the court. When a king assumed power, often but not exclusively determined by male primogeniture, he was said to have ‘sat on the gaddi’. The actual ceremony of investiture often took place on a fixed seat of marble, stone or precious metal.
This jewel-encrusted pen case with ink pot is an outstanding example of Mughal court craftsmanship. It was given by the emperor to a Rajput ruler as a mark of favour, probably as a reward after a victorious campaign. Its splendour suggests that it would have been used by the maharaja himself, for important personal communications or for signing court documents.
The Maharana is depicted four times riding in his palace courtyard as he and his courtiers celebrate Holi, the Hindu festival of spring. Participants spray each other with coloured dyes in a playful simulation of combat. The riot of colour contrasts with the distinctive white facade of the monumental palace. The use of multiple perspectives and depictions was characteristic of the court painters of Mewar.
This suit of armour is a rare surviving example of the hazaar-mukhi (‘thousand headed’) technique. It would have been worn by a Mewar warrior of noble birth. The back features a sunburst, a symbol of those Rajputs who claim descent from the sun.
In a romantic evening setting, the young king demonstrates his skill as a marksman in the company of his favourites. This painting is influenced by the artistic traditions of the Deccan, where the ruler’s predecessors had fought on behalf of the Mughals. The refinement of his court is evident from the delicate portrayal of the figures.
This spectacular painting provides a glimpse of the private life of the ruler. He is shown in his verdant island palace enjoying various activities: listening to music, promenading with ladies, shooting fish and watching crocodiles being fed. These idyllic scenes belie the fact that Ari Singh’s rule was insecure and he was constantly fighting both internal and external threats to his authority.
People of high rank travelled in a palanquin, borne on the shoulders of six to eight men. Palanquin designed for women were enclosed on all sides, with louvres to admit light and air. This example is from the collection at Jodhpur, where it arrived as part of the dowry of a royal bride. Unusually, the interior is enlivened with framed prints of Hindu deities.
This sari was made in Chanderi which was famed for the production of diaphanous fabrics woven with silk and metallic threads. The maharajas of Gwalior were patrons of Chanderi weavers and this sari was made for a royal wedding. The border is woven with a Sanskrit blessing, ‘Be forever fortunate’.
A popular pastime in royal India, chaupar was played by four people individually or in pairs. These extraordinary pieces are richly enamelled and jewelled, with the different players identified by colour and gemstone: diamond, emerald, ruby and sapphire. The enamelled dice are set with diamonds to indicate the numbers. The cloth board could be easily rolled and transported.
In India gems hold material, spiritual and astrological significance. In the ancient concept of samalamkara (‘being fully adorned’) for a ruler to appear dressed in auspicious gems confirmed his status and identity. Although worn for public ceremony, jewellery also had a private aspect; the beautiful decoration on the reverse would have been seen only by the wearer and his intimates.
In India rulers were expected to exercise rajadharma, meaning the duties and behaviour appropriate to a king. These would include the protection of their subjects, the adjudication of disputes, and the ministering of justice and punishment. Martial skills were as important as administrative and diplomatic ones; as well as being wise and benevolent, kings were expected to be fierce warriors and skilled hunters. Rajadharma was also exercised through the patronage of poets, musicians, architects, artists, craftsmen and religious foundations.
The concept of rajadharma derived from ancient texts and evolved in response to foreign invasion as well as to religious, social and cultural changes. By the 18th century the Mughals had created a dominant notion of kingship that united indigenous models with those derived from Islamic culture.
भारत में, शासकों से प्रत्याशा की जाती थी कि वे राजधर्म का पालन करेंगे| जिसका मतलब था, ऐसे दायित्व या व्यवहार जो एक राजा के लिए उपयुक्त थे| इनमें शामिल थे, अपनी प्रजा की रक्षा करना, विवादों का न्याय निर्णय, न्याय और दंड देना| सामरिक कौशल को प्रशासनिक एवं राजनयिक कौशल के जितना ही जरूरी माना जाता था; ज्ञानी एवं परोपकारी होने के साथ-साथ, राजाओं से यह प्रत्याशा की जाती थी कि वे प्रबल योद्धा एवं निपुण शिकारी होंगे| कवियों, वादकों, निर्माणकर्ताओं, कलाकार, शिल्पकार एवं धार्मिक संस्थापना को अपना प्रश्रय देकर भी राजधर्म का पालन किया जाता था|
राजधर्म की धारण, पौराणिक पाठों से ली गयी है| विदेशी आक्रमण एवं धार्मिक, सामाजिक और सांस्कृतिक बदलावों के प्रति उत्पन्न होने वाली प्रतिक्रिया के माध्यम से भी इसका विकास हुआ| 18वीं सदी तक मुगलों ने राजत्व की एक प्रमुख धारणा की रचना कर ली थी| यह धारणा, देशी नमूने के साथ इस्लामी संस्कृति से ली गयी धारणाओं को जोड़ती थी|