In Rajasthan, the Rajputs, a race coming from Central Asia like the Mogul Emperors, founded potentates which became the centre of superb royal courts. The majestic buildings and the charming sumptuous life of the Raia~strengthened the power and the fame of the local rulers. The jewellery produced for Rajasthan's Maharajas stood out for its quality and style. Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan built at the beginning of 1700.on the will of Maharaja Jai Singh 11, became one of the most prosperous cities in India. Between all the activities that flourished in Jaipur the most important certainly was the goldsmith's art, which granted fame to the city. In Agra, Delhi and Lahore goldsmiths, designers, stone's cutters, intaglio workers, engravers, enamellers were fully employed to produce ornaments for the royal families. Steady employment of European goldsmith masters, beside the Muslim and Indian goldsmiths gave an eclectic Character to the Mogul jewellery. Emperor Jahangir wrote in his memoirs about fine jewels gifted to him by Surat Governor. Venetian traveller Nicolo Manucci, who lived 24 years at the Mogul Court, from 1656 to 1680, wrote in his Storia do mogol (History of Mogul] that many European craftsmen worked at the Imperial Court as Iapidaries, glints, gems cutters, goldsmiths, enamellers.
Among those was the Venetian Ortosio Borgis, who lived at Aurangzeb court from 1660 to 1665, He cut the very famous I Gran Mogul diamond of 787,5 karats, the biggest in the world, using the "rose cut" style that seems to have been imponed to India by the Venetians to preserve the maximum volume of the gem. As a matter of fact Indians usually didn't like to destroy the integrity of the gem by cutting it, even if it had some defects. Distinctiveness of Mogul jewellery is the use of uncut stones, The cabochons are set through a peculiar gem-setting , method, called kundan. This traditional process can be used to inlay the surface of semiprecious stones, like nephrite or jade, or to decorate the gold jeweIs.. The craf.sman, after designing the selected pattern, traditionally an arabasque or a symbolic and propitiatory form starts to engrave the surface of the jade, When the hollow of' the design is ready he fix the gemstone with small amount of lac, ln gold items the decorative gems are placed in the prepared settings and stuck with sticky material Then, in both cases, some gold as pure as possible, usually 24 karats which is very malleable, is pressed around the stone perimeter with a stylus to wedge it in place and by gently overlapping the gem edge secure it. Because of the high purity of the gold, the metal can be welded without heat.
Then usually the gold is.compressed and polished by a burnisher. Kundan technique is suppored by the superb art of enamelling, minakari in Hindi, melted in dazzling chromatiims. Most of Indian enamelling is made io champleve method. Enamel finishes the ornament in every part, showing the pursuit of perfection. Enamelled harmonious figures of birds, animals, trees, flowers and leaves offer the same pleasure we get from a very refined miniature. The skill and the innovating technique created true masterpieces which defined a unique styIe'which is still inspiring the best expressions of contemporary Indian jewellery. Even after the dethronement of the Mogul and Q the British Colonisation, the richness of Indian jeweIIerY treasures has continued to astonish the world and many gold workshops are producing the most elegant and sophisticated jewellery under the royal patronage. In Rajasthan, the Rajputs, a race coming from Central Asia like the Mogul Emperors, founded potentates which became the centre of superb royal courts. The majestic buildings and the charming sumptuous life of the Raia strengthened the power and the fame of the local rulers. The jewellery produced for Rajasthan's Maharajas stood out for its quality and style. Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan built at the beginning of 1700.on the will of Maharaja Jai Singh 11, became one of the most prosperous cities in India.
Between all the activities that flourished in Js.ipur the most important certainly was he the goIdsmith's art, which granted fame to the city. For the exquisite workmanship and the unmistakable style of its goldsmith masters Jaipur became one ofthe most important and well-known jewellery art centre in the world. The gem‘s cut and the process activities increased. The skill of enamellers, in Hindi minakar, reached excellence in carrying out the design with extreme accuracy, inspired often from Mogul miniature depicting divinities or royal couples Framed by flowers and birds, To obtain the best result, most of the jewels were made in pure gold, perfectly suitable for this purpose. As "SoIar" metal with high qualities of brightness, stainlessness, durability, gold has been considered the best material to create items for noble person. Jade's jewels were made too. The jade or nephrite jewels were carefully shaped and polished, carved and decorated by kundan inlay and precious stones. Jade was believed to be a special valuable gem for its peculiarities of transparency and impalpability. Prodigious therapeutic properties has been ascribed to jade, and in particular to nephrite, like the power to control heart-beat and head disease, to be an antidote for poison or to be useful for renal diseases (the name nephrite derived from Greek nefros, meaning "the kidneY"). Emeralds were the rew Maharajas obsession.
In fact this gem, one of the few which found in Indian mines, was the most coveted and, to satisfy the great request, emeralds were purchased from Spanish and Portuguese that had the monopoly of the South American mines. At beginning of 1800 among Indian Maharajas began a big competition to own the best emeralds. Huge, baroque beads- or big drops of emeralds beautified turbans' ornaments, heavy necklaces, precious arm jewels and rich beIt's buckles. During 1877, 1903 and 1911 Durbars various Indian Rajas displayed very impressive jewellery studded with remarkable emeralds. It was in India where the practice of carving emeralds began. Round or oval beads were knurled with regular lines, a typical pattern which has been drawn on later by the deco style. As Mogul heritage hexagonal or rectangular emerald plaques were carved with Qur'anic inscriptions or floral patterns. According to Muslim belief, these sacred inscriptions were permitted and accepted as magical practice, they were used for auspicious purpose as a powerful amulet which offercd general protection to the wearer but also had specific action against illness, demons and devil enchantment. Some of these amulets are real masterpieces, like tile TaJ Mahal Emerald of 141.13 carats which shows the superb calligraphic skill of Indian Iapidaries. This one and other masterpieces belong today to the best and renowned public and private collections Indian Maharaja really appreciated pearls. The most favourite were the baroque pearls from Persian Gulf called "Basrapearls" from the name of the Iraqi port were they were fished. In the old Maharajas's pictures we can see how huge quantities of natural pearls were utilised in different ornaments. The Maharaja of Patiala and the Gaekwad of Baroda are well known in India as the owners of the most marvellous and rare pearls. Among the typologies of jewels, the turban's ornament, turra or sarpech, was, par exellence, the emblem of royalty identifying Maharajas, Nizams or Nawabs, Indian rulers either Muslim or Hindu. Only royal princes could wear this jeweIs.. The style of sarpech appeared during the Mogul Empire and for the next 300 years it was the Ieitmotiv of the Indian royal image. The use of this ornament was prerogative only of potentates from the time of Akbar, the "Great" Emperor, who was depicted with a soft plume fixed to the turban by a precious brooch. Sarpech-Changed shape every century influencing and being influenced even by the different fashions of London or Paris. The turra is an ornament worn on the turban's side. It is often shaped as a bird carryiiig in its bill a rich fringe of pearls. The sarpech (orjiga in Persian) is instead fastened at the, centre of turban. lt reminds the shape of feather reproduced in gold orjade studded with gems, often carved and set by kundan work. On the reverse champleve enamel work embellishes them.
The simple plume could beside bent by a drop pendant gem, as it had been shown by some early models from 16th and 17th century. The style has changed accordingly to the fashions preferred by the different royal courts. Jjahangir adopted the aigrette imported from European courts and this Style remained until the beginning of 1900, During I 9th century two more elements have been added to the central plume to obtain a richer ornament that could cover almost the entire central part of the turban. Even the arm ornament, " bazuband, represents a peculiarjewel of the indian regal status. lt is wom around the upper arm and it is made by several joined elements, the central one could be inscribed with sacred formulas having amulet's aim. Even the pendants called ta‘wiz had the same purpose. They are made by precious metal or jade (haldili in Hindi and they have religious inscriptions or a supicious symbols (like crescent, tree of life, three stars, etc.) ln layed or made with kundan work. The feature of the kara wrist bracelets are characterised by animal head terminals: crocodile, mythical aquatic animals ( makara in Hindi), parrot or tiger. This typology of prodrome terminals in form of animal head found origin in the ancient Middle East and has been used in India since the 3rd century A.D. They "are set with gemstones in kundan work and completely embellished by polychrome enamel work. The kara has inspired the Art Deco most typical braceletes, Among the male and female rings it is worth mentioning the zihgir or archer rings. The concept of archer ring originated in Central Asia to respond at the need to stretch the bow. They have an unmistakable shape and can be wom only in the thumb.
These indian rings, real masterpiece o1jewelIer's craft, were made in gold and enamel works or in jade, agate and ivory inlayed with kundan gem set. In the regal courts the ladies spent lot of time for their embellishment. One ofthe 64 female arts mentioned in the Kama Sutra is the skill to choose the right ornaments for seducing men Indian ladies dedicate a special care in selecting and arranging jewels to wear symmetrically from head to toe in a harmonic balance with the dress. When Queen Victoria was proclaimed Empress of India in 1876, Indianjewellery turned in fashion in England as well as in France. All the famous European jewellers began to pay attention to Indian jewel Iery and went to "the land of legendary treasures" to buy gems and precious crafts. They began to entertain friendly relations with Rajas, their potentialclients.
At the beglnniog of 1900 more than 130 princes still owned extraordinary collections of ancient jewelry. ln those years the British Indian Empire constituted an unfailing reserve of wonder. The blazing sarpech, displayed during the main Delhi Durbar in 1901 celebrating George V Coronation Day, suggested to Cartier the idea to create the first aigrette, a leitmotiv of Deco jewellery. Jacques Cartier had been in Rajasthan to meet the Maharaja of Jaipur. The two men understood each other at first sight. The French malson was charmed by the Indian style. The lndian influence appeared in the gem's colours slected by Cartier for his Deco jewellery. ln fac, this style was called, not accidentaly, ‘Peacock‘s motif', underlining the daring matching of blue sapphires and green emeralds. From 1920 to 1930 several Maharajas and Nawabs required to the famous French and London Jewellery Houses to reset their traditional jewels into the new western style. This was the last boost of the royal splendour, of which today only remains a hazy and occasional glimpse.
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