Mughal jewellery: Art works in gold

Mughal jewellery: Art works in gold

unique Mughal designs

Perhaps, the greatest contribution of Mughals to India is in the form of jewellery designs. Mughals were known for exquisite jewellery items made from gold and precious stones. Influenced by Hindu traditions, Mughals took to wearing stones for luck and navratnas became extremely popular.

Mughal era designs were basically extravagant jewellery pieces made for royalty, the subjects being birds, creepers, flowers and foliage. According to Anuradha Chhabra, a designer, colours and motifs were predominant in Mughal jewellery.  “Mughal jewellery is known for its beautiful designs, colour combinations, arrangement, enamelling and engraving,” remarks Varun Arora of Orra, the official jewellery consultant for the film industry.

In fact, Mughal patronage provided the platform for the development of existing traditions in jewellery making, as well as the creation of innovative techniques. Hindu designs were gently modified to incorporate various geometrical and floral designs. Hindu jewelry depicting scenes from the ancient scriptures and gods formed the main themes. But since the depiction of human figures was prohibited in Islam, the art of engraving figures took a backseat, making way for floral and animal designs.  

The combination of crescent and stem dominated Mughal jewellery. Earrings had a small stem at the top of a crescent from which was suspended a fish, which further led to a bunch of pearls. These became a regular feature of Mughal jewellery.

The kundan method of setting stones in pure gold was perfected by artisans in the Mughal period. Here, the gold used for jewellery was fused at room temperature.
Another technique that was developed by the Mughals was the inlaying of stones with gold. Precious metals with hammered relief decoration and enamelling, the incrustation of jade with patterns, with stem-work of gold and leaves and flowers in stones, were techniques that produced a treasure of designs. The repetitive colour palette of green, red and white in Mughal designs corresponds to the intensive use of emeralds, rubies and diamonds.

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