Emeralds in India: New World Gems & the Mughal Court

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170 St. George Street, 1st floor, Room 100

The Indian subcontinent has long been the source of goods and commodities sought around the globe, and trade has taken Indian steel, spices, textiles, and diamonds to each of the continents. In equal measure, India has been an avid consumer of items from outside of its borders. This talk will focus on a moment of trade connecting India and the Americas in the 16th -17th centuries when Indian goods found popularity among both the upper and middle classes living in the colonial settlements of Central America, and the natural resources of the Americas, including emeralds, found esteem at the Mughal court.

This talk will trace the travel of the emeralds from the mines of Colombia along trade routes leading to the Mughal court, and will examine Mughal perceptions of emeralds and their foreign source which heightened their appeal. It will then follow the subsequent travels of Mughal emerald jewelry to Iran and Europe, and finally to the art market and museums, along which route they have become symbolic of a Mughal or an Indian style, even though their distant origins was originally part of their significance in South Asia.

Marika Sardar is Curator at the Aga Khan Museum, having previously worked at the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, Qatar, the San Diego Museum of Art, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Major exhibitions include contributions to Interwoven Globe (2013), focusing on the worldwide textile trade from the 16th-18th century; co-curator of Sultans of Deccan India, 1500-1750 (2015), examining the artistic traditions of the Muslim sultanates of central India; and curator of Epic Tales from Ancient India (2016), looking at narrative traditions and the illustration of texts from South Asia. She is currently preparing, with John Seyller, a publication on the Mughal-era Persian-language manuscript of the Ramayana in the collection of the MIA, Doha.

This event is free and open to all. Registration is required. For further information, please contact the Institute of Islamic Studies at (416) 946 5241.