Eastern Art Online, Yousef Jameel Centre for Islamic and Asian Art

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Jade mirror-back


    • First floor | Room 33 | Mughal India

Objects are sometimes moved to a different location. Our object location data is usually updated on a monthly basis. Contact the Jameel Study Centre if you are planning to visit the museum to see a particular object on display, or would like to arrange an appointment to see an object in our reserve collections.


Publications online

  • Indian Art in the Ashmolean Museum by J. C. Harle and Andrew Topsfield

    Indian Art in the Ashmolean Museum

    Although the art of hardstone carving had been practiced in India from an early period, it reached a peak of artistic and technical achievement under the Mughal emperors. Jade in particular had long been prized by their Central Asian forebears for its qualities of hardness, translucency, and delicacy of colouring, and the emperor Jahāngir is known to have possessed several Timurid pieces. In the reign of Shāh Jahān, a lover of precious stones and of icily perfect marmoreal architecture as embodied in the Tāj Mahal, many of the finest Mughal jades were carved. These often display the characteristic floral ornament of the period in low relief. In other objects, such as boxes, huqqa bases and dagger hilts, the jade surfaces were opulently patterned with small pieces of ruby, emerald and semi-precious stones inset in gold surrounds.

    This mirror-back was made towards the end of the Mughal period, when the craftsmen were repeating the designs of the two previous centuries with diminishing virtuosity. It follows the rectangular shape of European mirrors which were imported in great numbers from the 17th century (Indian mirrors were traditionally round or oval). The intricate openwork carving of multiple branching flowers emanating from a central stem is in effect a miniature version of the pierced stonework jālī panels found in the window apertures and balustrades of the old Mughal palaces.

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