Peacock Throne

 

 

The legendary ‘Peacock Throne’ (also known as Takht-e-Tavous) of Mughal Badshah Shah Jahan is a wonder of Mughal Art. It was yet another example of Shah Jahan’s unparallel aesthetic sense and love of art. This is counted as the costliest single treasure crafted in the last thousand years. In fact, the Peacock Throne was twice as costly as the total cost of the Taj Mahal!

The original Peacock Throne was built in the 17th century for the Indian emperor Shah Jahan and it was placed in Delhi’s royal court known as Diwan-i-Aam. It acquired its name from its unique shape. It had the figures of two peacocks standing behind it, their tails being expanded and the whole was inlaid with sapphires, rubies, emeralds, pearls and other precious stones of appropriate colors so as to represent life. As described by the French jeweler Jean Baptiste Tavernier, who visited Delhi in 1665, the throne as of the shape of a bed (a "takhta" i.e. platform), 6 ft. by 4 ft., supported by four golden feet, 20 to 25 in. high, from the bars above which rose twelve columns to support the canopy; the bars were decorated with crosses of rubies and emeralds, and also with diamonds and pearls. There were 108 large rubies on the throne, and 116 emeralds. The twelve columns supporting the canopy were decorated with rows of splendid pearls, and according to Tavernier, these were the most valuable part of the throne.

Among the historical diamonds decorating it were the famous Kohinoor (186 carats), the Akbar Shah (95 carats), the Shah (88.77 carats), the Jehangir (83 carats) and the second largest spinel ruby in the world — the Timur ruby (283 carats). A-20 couplet poem by the Mughal poet-laureate Qudsi, praising the Emperor, was embedded in the throne in emerald letters.

Delhi was invaded by Nader Shah in 1738 and the priceless Peacock Throne was one of the rare treasures he plundered from India.The legendary throne was carried to Iran. It glorified the palace of Iran till it was destroyed in the chaos following the assassination of Nader Shah in 1747.

Since its inception, the Peacock Throne had charmed people all over the world. It was a wonderful piece of Mughal art, priceless in precision and beauty. Its immortal charm has been kept alive in later adaptations still to be seen in Iran. An example of such a throne is the Naderi Throne, built in 1812 for Fath Ali Shah Qajar. Another Iranian throne, built in 1836 for Mohammad Shah Qajar, is also called the Peacock Throne.


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