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Turban ornament

Turban ornament

  • Place of origin:

    Murshidabad (made)

  • Date:

    c.1755 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Gold, set with diamonds, rubies, a sapphire, Colombian emeralds and a pearl

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

These turban jewels , made and intended to be worn together, were presented to Admiral Charles Watson (1714-1757) by the Nawab of Bengal on 26 July 1757, following the battle of Plassey. They were inherited by the Townley family, relatives of the Admiral, following his death in India shortly after the battle, and remained in their possession until sold at auction in London in 1982, when they were bought by the V&A. They are a rare example of securely datable 18th century Indian jewels.
When the British East India Company felt their trading interests in India to be threatened by Siraj ad-Daula, the Nawab of Bengal, they decided to depose him in favour of a ruler who would be more amenable to their interests. This led to the campaign that culminated in the famous Battle of Plassey, during which Robert Clive (1725-1774) led the land forces and Admiral Watson commanded the fleet. The British victory allowed them to install as Nawab Mir Ja'far, who then presented lavish gifts to Clive and to Watson, including these jewels. The style of the pieces, which have backs enamelled in translucent green and red over a white ground, and jewelled fronts, is within the Mughal tradition found all over the northern provinces of the subcontinent. The specific form, however, is typical of Bengal and, particularly, of its capital Murshidabad. The style is seen in contemporary paintings of Murshidabad, and it is probable that the jewels were taken from the treasury rather than being made especially for presentation by Mir Ja'far.

Physical description

Turban jewels of gold; the upper section set with a large sapphire, diamonds, rubies and emeralds on the front, and with a pendant emerald at the upper extremity, enamelled on the back. The lower piece made en suite is of gold, set with a central emerald flanked by two rubies, enamelled on the back, and with a pendant pearl.

Place of Origin

Murshidabad (made)


c.1755 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Gold, set with diamonds, rubies, a sapphire, Colombian emeralds and a pearl


Height: 16.9 cm aigrette (upper section), Width: 6.1 cm aigrette (upper section), Width: 10.6 cm lower section, Height: 3.6 cm lower section (excluding pearl)

Object history note

These jewels were presented to Admiral Charles Watson by the Nawab of Bengal on 26 July.1757, following the battle of Plassey. They remained in the possession of the Townley family, the descendants of the Admiral, until 1982 when the Museum bought them at auction.

Historical context note

Style typical of jewellery worn at the court of Murshidabad in the 18th century.

Descriptive line

Turban jewels (jigha and sarpati), enamelled gold set with diamonds, a sapphire and a pendant pearl, Murshidabad; c.1755.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Susan Stronge, Nima Smith and J.C.Harle: A Golden Treasury- Jewellery from the Indian Subcontinent, cat. 37, pp. 51-52

Rosemary Crill, John Guy, Veronica Murphy, Susan Stronge and Deborah Swallow, Arts of India: 1550-1900, Victoria & Albert Museum, 1990, p. 176, pl. 150.
Susan Stronge, "Jewels for the Mughal Court", V&A Album 5, 1986, p. 315, figs 9 and 10.
Front jacket and plate 125, p. 153
Jackson, Anna and Jaffer, Amin (eds), with Deepika Ahlawat. Maharaja : the splendour of India's royal courts. London, V&A Publishing, 2009. ISBN.9781851775736 (hbk.), ISBN.1851775730 (hbk.).
Sotheby & Co. [London] Catalogue of Jewels for the Collector, Thursday 22 April 1982, lot 274.
Susan Stronge, Nima Smith, and J.C. Harle. A Golden Treasury : Jewellery from the Indian Subcontinent London : Victoria and Albert Museum in association with Mapin Publishing, Ahmedabad, 1988. ISBN: 0944142168
p. 33, pl. 2.4, p. 54-5, pl. 3.5
Indian Jewellery: The V&A Collection London: V&A Publishing, 2008 Number: ISBN 9781851774838
Stronge, Susan, Jewels for the Mughal Court, pp. 308-317
The V&A Album, 5, London: 1986 Number: ISBN 1851770771

Production Note

Style typical of jewellery worn at court in Murshidabad during 18th century.


Gold; Diamond; Sapphire; Pearl; Emerald; Ruby




Jewellery; Images Online; Gemstones


South & South East Asia Collection

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