The Al Thani Collection
Treasures of the Mughals and the Maharajas, published on the occasion of the extraordinary exhibition of the Al Thani Collection in Venice, allows readers to enjoy, at least from a little distance, the jeweller’s crafts and traditions of the Indian subcontinent, from the pre-Raj Mughal period to more recent times.
The changing tastes for gem-settings in numerous objects and formal jewellery is showcased by over 270 noteworthy pieces from The Al Thani Collection, together with major works on loan from institutions and private individuals.
Mughal rule had a lasting influence on the arts, crafts and culture of India and what was later to become Pakistan. The Muslim emperors, originally from Central Asia, were at their most powerful in the late 16th and 17th centuries. Their wealth was legendary, as these fabulous items illustrate.
Regal emblems abound, with fly-whisks and daggers along with purely aesthetic thumb rings, necklaces and flamboyant turban ornaments.
Outside the Mughal empire, one of the most famed courts was that of Tipu Sultan of Mysore, who was also known as Tipu Tiger. Objects made for him were decorated with motifs of that animal. There are also much more contemporary pieces reflecting changing taste, moving from the ornate and marvellously-tooled works to much simpler settings where a single precious stone might be the stunning centrepiece.
Treasures of the Mughals and the Maharajas: The Al Thani Collection is perhaps the finest gathering of opulent and rare jewels. On one hand, they are valued for their volume of precious metal and gems; on the other, they are appreciated far more for their display of craftsmanship and glistening beauty. This book is a gift-quality tome that will be adored by any lover of Subcontinental art, history and culture. If one can’t get to the exhibition then this book is a sumptuous alternative.
Treasures of the Mughals and the Maharajas: The Al Thani Collection
Author: Amina Taha-Hussein Okada
Published by: Skira Editore
Book review by Chrissie Walker © 2018