Asian Civilisations Museum – Treasury of the World

I was invited to have a sneak peak of the upcoming exhibition at Asian Civilisations Museum. Treasury of the World is a stunning collection of 402 exquisite gem stones and other precious objects from the glorious era of Mughal-ruled India. The Mughal Empire dominated the Indian subcontinent for 300 years (1526 – 1858) and were renowned for their lavish lifestyle, love of beauty and vast collection of precious objects.
17th century British ambassador, Thomas Roe, once described Emperor Jahangir as “The treasury of the world”. Emperor Shah Jahan, Jahangir’s son, was considered one of the greatest Mughal emperors. Under his reign, the empire grew significantly and many magnificent monuments, including the Taj Mahal, Jama Masjid and Red Fort, were built.

One of the interesting display is a dagger and scabbard that is thought to have been commissioned and designed by Emperor Jahangir around 1619. It has 1,685 rubies, 271 unpolished diamonds, 62 emeralds, 321 pieces of transparent emerald-green glass, 39 pieces of blue glass, 9 pieces of ivory and 6 layered agates. That’s a total of 2,393 stones, plus another 26 which are now missing. I wonder where did the 26 go. The rubies form a pattern of birds and flowers. I don’t mind if someone kill me with that.

Another interesting treasure is a bracelet set with rubies, diamonds and chrysoberyl cat’s eye. Bangles that terminate in confronting animal heads were popular in Indian jewellery design. This bangle is adorned with enamelled tiger heads. The exterior is gem-set with rubies and diamonds. It kinda looks like the tigers are kissing. Interesting huh? As you all know, this is the year of the Tiger and Chinese New Year happens to fall on Valentine’s Day.
All images are courtesy of The al-Sabah Collection, Dar al-Athar al-Islamiyyah, Kuwait. I didn’t get to see the exhibit yet. As I’m writing, the staff at ACM are busy unpacking them. But I’ll definitely visit ACM when the exhibition is ready.
The Treasury of the World will be on display at Asian Civilisations Museum from 12 February to 27 June 2010. Tickets at $8 and $4 for adults and concession respectively. Check out ACM website for more info.


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