Peacock Throne

Peacock Throne

Peacock Throne: see Delhi.
The Peacock Throne, called Takht-e-Tâvus (تخت طاووس) in Persian, is the name originally of a Mughal throne of India, later used to describe the thrones of the Persian emperors from Nader Shah Afshari to Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi. The Mughal throne is called Mayûr Singhâsan in Hindi translation.

History

The name comes from the shape of a throne, having the figures of two peacocks standing behind it, their tails being expanded and the whole so inlaid with sapphires, rubies, emeralds, pearls and other precious stones of appropriate colors as to represent life, created for the Mughal Badshah Shah Jahan of India in the 17th century, which was in his imperial capital Delhi's Public audience hall, the Diwan-i-Am. Shah Jahan had the famous Koh-i-noor diamond placed in this throne.

The French jeweller Tavernier, who saw Delhi in 1665, described the throne as of the shape of a bed (a "takhta" or 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. In all there were 108 large rubies on the throne, and 116 emeralds, but many of the latter had flaws. The twelve columns supporting the canopy were decorated with rows of splendid pearls, and Tavernier considered these to be the most valuable part of the throne. Estimates of its value varied: Rs. 4 crore (Bernier) and Rs. 10 crore (Tavernier). According to The History Channel, the throne would be worth $1 billion today. .

Shahanshah Nader Shah invaded the Mughal Empire in 1738, and returned to Persia in 1739 with the original Peacock Throne as well as many other treasures taken from the Mughal emperor Muhammad Shah.

According to an article by the Sunday Tribune, It was, accordingly, ordered that, in addition to the jewels in the imperial jewel house, rubies, garnets, diamonds, rich pearls and emeralds in all weighing 230 kg should be brought for the inspection of the Emperor and they should be handed over to Bebadal Khan, the superintendent of the goldsmith’s department. There was also to be given to him 1150 kg of pure gold... The throne was to be three yards in length, two-and-a-half in breadth and five in height and was to be set with the above mentioned jewels. The outside of the canopy was to be of enamel work with occasional gems, the inside was to be thickly set with rubies, garnets and other jewels, and it was to be supported by 12 emerald columns. On the top of each pillar there were to be two peacocks, thick-set with gems and between each two peacocks a tree set with rubies and diamonds, emeralds and pearls. The ascent was to consist of three steps set with jewels of fine water". Of the 11 jewelled recesses formed around it for cushions, the middle one was intended for the seat it for Emperor. 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 in emerald letters was embedded in the throne. On March 12, 1635, Emperor Shah Jahan ascended for the first time the newly completed Peacock Throne. The French jeweller and traveller, Jean Baptiste Tavennier, who had the opportunity to examine the throne at close quarters, confirms the court chronicler’s description... Its place in the two fortress-palaces of Delhi and Agra was usually at the Hall of Private Audience known as Diwan-I-Khas, although it was kept at the Hall of Public Audience known as the Diwan-I-Am when larger audience were expected.

After Nader Shah was assassinated in 1747, the original Peacock Throne was destroyed in the chaos that ensued. However, later Iranian thrones were referred to as Peacock Thrones, although they resemble a chair rather than a platform. 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. Since then, the term Peacock Throne has come to refer not only to the actual throne, but to the Iranian monarchy itself.

Hindutva revisionist theory

Hindutva (Hindu fundamentalist) groups have claimed that the Peacock Throne was originally some kind of Hindu throne, usurped by Islamic Mughal dynasty later. They claim that since Islam prohibits any depiction of living creatures, including peacocks, the throne could not have been of Islamic origin. Hindutva groups have made similar claims, opposing the views of mainstream historians, upon other Mughal and Muslim Indian things like the Taj Mahal.

This claim for the Peacock Throne is dubious because the Mughal Emperors of India did not follow a puritan, Wahhabi Islam, except Shah Jahan's son Aurangzeb. Most other sects and denominations of Islam are lenient about depictions of plants, birds, animals and humans, except of course Allah and Muhammad. Indeed almost all Mughal Emperors had their face portraits made by Court painters.

References

Sources and external links

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