About the Peacock Throne of the Mogul Emperors

the Peacock Throne was ornamented with a gold peacock whose outspread tail was made of precious gems and whose body was studded with stones.


The Peacock Throne--Strange Picture of Magnificence--An Error Corrected--The Sanguinary Adventures of Tamerlane.

This stone we have so named because it formed a conspicuous feature of the magnificent throne of the Mogul emperors, the gems of which were yearly weighed, and the result carefully noted. There were altogether seven Imperial thrones covered all over, some with diamonds, others with rubies, emeralds, or pearls. But this, which Tavernier fully describes, was by far the most sumptuous, and was specially distinguised by a peacock, whose outspread tail was made of blue sapphires and other coloured gems, and whose body was of enamelled gold studded with stones, and with a large ruby in front, whence hung a pear-shaped pearl, about 50 carats in weight, or 200 grains. On either side of the peacock, and at about the same height, there stood two bouquets, the flowers of which were of enamelled gold and precious stones. Tavernier goes on to say that, "on the side of the throne facing the Court, there is an open-set jewel, whence hangs a diamond from 80 to 90 carats in weight, and surrounded by rubies and emeralds, and when the king is seated he has this jewel right in front of him." Tavernier, who makes no further reference to this diamond, adds that the throne was begun by Tamerlane, and finished by Shah Jehan, and that it was valued at seventy lacs of rupees (equal to pound 700,000 sterling), "qui sont cent soixante millions, 500,000 livres de nostre monnoye." There is every reason to doubt the accuracy of Tavernier's statement, at all events as to the commencement of the Peacock Throne. Tamerlane is probably an error for Baber or Humayun, and the point raises some interesting if not melancholy, reflections.

About the year 1398, Tamerlane (known as the "Firebrand of the Universe,") crossed the Indus in his raid from Tartary to the luxurious district of Delhi, and on his course of indiscriminate plunder and slaughter, became so hampered with captives taken on his march, that he slaughtered in cold blood 100,000 of them. He ravaged Delhi, set fire to its magnificent public buildings and the dwellings of its inhabitants, and inaugurated a scene of indescribable massacre and pillage, by acts of besotted truculence. Then having secured untold wealth, and wasted more than he could take away, he returned to his Tartar capital, a monster among bandits, never more to visit the scenes of his horrible exploits. His inroad upon India was measured by a few days only. He constructed nothing but piles of unburied men, women, and children, and he wrote nothing but a legend of blood and barbarous outrage.

Very general as is the belief in the one Peacock Throne out of the seven Imperial seats, covered all over with diamonds, rubies, emeralds, or pearls, it would be lawful to hesitate whether "the bird with out-spread tail made of sapphires and other coloured gems, and whose body was of enamelled gold, studded with stones, and with a large ruby in front, whence hung a pear-shaped pearl, weighing about 50 carats," is the actual thing, familiarly known by the French jeweller as the bird strutting about the chateaux in his native country.

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