The wealthy Mughals who built the Taj Mahal and ruled India from 1526-1707 surrounded themselves with diamonds, rubies, emeralds, and pearls which became an integral and dazzling part of their lives. Discerning and culture rulers, they supported many and varied artists, enabling them to produce jewelry, paintings, and household items in conditions that allowed them not only
financial freedom but the time to create their masterpieces.
The abundance of gems in India was so great the skill of these men raised everyday objects into works of art. Wherever a Mughal looked, beauty abounded. Even a lowly crutch top would be carved of jade and inset with gold and gems. In a village it would be made of wood. A Mughal backscratcher was made from jade with silver and gilded bronze fittings rather than formed from a base metal.
Mughals moved enameled game pieces around boards even as villagers used simpler pieces of more natural ingredients. A bowl? It could be rock crystal with gilded silver mounts in a palace and a tinned alloy in humble huts. Rich and poor alike smoked the water pipe (huqqa), but the bulbous water storage of the villagers huqqa might be brass, while...