Alumni Chapter

Washington D.C. Chapter: A Comparative Analysis of Ottoman & Mughal Jewelry in the 16th & 17th Centuries

Mughal Bracelet Detail
The jewelry of India's Mughal Empire (16th to 18th century) emphasized polished, unfaceted gems set in engraved and enameled high-karat gold. The predominant colors for the period were red and green, symbolizing the forces of life. Red represented blood, the life force of the animal kingdom; green represented plant life created by the combination of the blue sky and yellow sun. The bracelet is made in the Mughal style using fabrication techniques that have changed since the 18th century. Photo courtesy of Fai Dee, Bangkok.

Presenter: Claire Morgan

At first glance, the jewelry of the Ottoman and Mughal traditions seem strikingly similar. Both employ large quantities of precious metals, particularly yellow gold. However, there are also important differences between the two kinds of jewelry, like the range of materials and gemstones used, the settings of gemstones and the variety and types of jewelry worn. This lecture will compare some examples of jewels from each tradition and consider how the emperors used them to display their wealth and power.

Claire Morgan is a graduate student in the Smithsonian-GW Corcoran MA program in Decorative Arts and Design History, where she is specializing in jewelry history with a focus on Indian jewelry and material culture. Her thesis compares Ottoman & Mughal jewelry from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.


Admission is free for members who have paid their 2019 annual meeting fees and $15 at the door for all others. No advanced registration required.
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