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Turban Ornament

c.1755 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

These turban jewels, made and intended to be worn together, were presented to Admiral Charles Watson (1714-1757) by Mir Jafar, the new 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.
Conflicts between the Siraj ad-Daula, the Nawab of Bengal, and the British East India Company whose influence was expanding in Bengal, led ultimately to the famous Battle of Plassey in 1757. Robert Clive (1725-1774) led the land forces of the East India Company, and Admiral Watson commanded the fleet. The British victory allowed them to install as Nawab Mir Ja'far, who then presented lavish gifts as rewards 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.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Parts
This object consists of 2 parts.

  • Turban Ornament
  • Turban Ornament
Materials and Techniques
Gold, set with diamonds, rubies, a sapphire, Colombian emeralds and a pearl
Brief Description
Turban jewels (jigha and sarpati), enamelled gold set with diamonds, a sapphire and a pendant pearl, Murshidabad; c.1755.
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.
Dimensions
  • Aigrette (upper section) height: 16.9cm
  • Aigrette (upper section) width: 6.1cm
  • Lower section width: 10.6cm
  • Lower section (excluding pearl) height: 3.6cm
Object history
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
Style typical of jewellery worn at the court of Murshidabad in the 18th century.
Production
Style typical of jewellery worn at court in Murshidabad during 18th century.
Summary
These turban jewels, made and intended to be worn together, were presented to Admiral Charles Watson (1714-1757) by Mir Jafar, the new 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.

Conflicts between the Siraj ad-Daula, the Nawab of Bengal, and the British East India Company whose influence was expanding in Bengal, led ultimately to the famous Battle of Plassey in 1757. Robert Clive (1725-1774) led the land forces of the East India Company, and Admiral Watson commanded the fleet. The British victory allowed them to install as Nawab Mir Ja'far, who then presented lavish gifts as rewards 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.
Bibliographic References
  • 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.).Front jacket and plate 125, p. 153Susan 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.
  • 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: 0944142168p.51
  • Indian Jewellery: The V&A Collection London: V&A Publishing, 2008 Number: ISBN 9781851774838p. 33, pl. 2.4, p. 54-5, pl. 3.5
  • The V&A Album, 5, London: 1986 Number: ISBN 1851770771Stronge, Susan, Jewels for the Mughal Court, pp. 308-317
Collection
Accession Number
IS.3&A-1982

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record createdSeptember 3, 2002
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