Maharajahii Indiei / The Maharajahs of India (VIII).

Maharajahii Indiei / The Maharajahs of India (VIII).

(Ann Morrow, „Highness. The Maharajahs of India”, Cap. 4, „As Plentiful as Blackberries”)

In their quiet, orderly homes in the Home Counties, the jewellers absorbed the Mogul culture and studied Indian miniatures. Soon the mango leaf, the Kashmir palm, the lotus flower and Hindu deities/pronounced DTs by their Indian guides/were appearing on waistbands and chokers and turban tassels.

They interpreted the Mogul emperor’ s love of flowers and designed white jade roses set with pearls, rubies, and bunches of emerald grapes. They made hathpuls, which were wedding bracelets. For one, 223 pearls were drilled and stretched over the back of the bride’ s hand, linking the fingers in a delicate tracery. As painstakingly as they created diamond bow brooches, chokers, pearl studs and enamelled miniatures for European royalty, they turned their talents east. They fashioned bracelets, armlets and naths-nose rings- in diamond, ruby, sapphire and emerald. The Maharajah of Kashmir liked to wear handsome pearls around his ankles. Another Prince who insisted his wife should wear a chastity belt only got his way by having it made of diamonds.

The ledger for 1 April 1853 records an ordinary day at Garrard: ‘Repair clasp to diamond brooch, setting and finishing 15 opals,’ and so until Docket 38819. There the meticulous hand, using a fine nib and blue-black ink, states simply: ‘Her Majesty the Queen’ and, underlined, ‘Setting the Koh-i-Noor’. The cost was L 60,000, paid by the people of India.

But it had never been their gift to the royal family. It came to Queen Victoria from the East India Company, ‘with humble duty’, in 1851, when they deposed the Lion of the Punjab’ s son, the Maharajah Dhuleep Singh.

-to be continued-

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