Rich & famous

Rich & famous


Rich & famous

If wondering what the costliest single treasure in history is, it is the Peacock Throne of Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan. Wrought out of 1,150 kg of gold and 230 kg of precious stones, this throne is worth around Rs 5.5 billion.

Zille-I-Illahi or Shadow of God on Earth was one of his titles. As befitting the title, he created in his palaces at Agra and Delhi the shadow of paradise on earth, and in his throne, sought to recreate the shadow of the throne of God on earth, taking for its model the famous throne of Solomon, the prophet king.

Among the historical diamonds decorating it were the famous Kohinoor, the Akbar Shah, the Shah, the Jehangir and the Timur ruby. A 20 couplet poem by Mughal poet-laureate Qudsi, praising the Emperor, was embedded in the throne in emeralds.
On March 12, 1635, Emperor Shah Jahan ascended the Peacock Throne. Its place in the two fortress-palaces of Delhi and Agra was usually at the Hall of Private Audience known as Diwan-I-Khas, although it was kept at the Hall of Public Audience known as the Diwan-I-Am when larger audiences were expected.

Emperor Aurangzeb usurped the throne in AD 1658, ruled for 49 years, and died in 1707. In AD 1739, Persian Emperor Nadir Shah defeated Emperor Muhammad Shah, looted Delhi, and took the Peacock Throne to Persia. In 1747, as Nadir Shah went on a campaign against the Kurdish tribesmen, he was assassinated by his own officers. In the ensuing melee, the Peacock Throne was demolished by the tribesmen, and the jewels taken away to the Middle-East.

Although some Persian historians make a mention of the Peacock Throne even two decades later, it is known that only a few pieces could be rescued of this fabulous seat of state, later to be incorporated in the Persian Nadiri Peacock Throne kept in the Gulestan Palace in Tehran. Many miniature paintings showing the throne exist in Indian, European and American art museums.

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