• Falcon Finial slide

    Falcon Finial slide

    Falcon Finial

Falcon Finial

India, probably Jaipur
Modern period, 14th century AH / 20th century CE
Gold, enameled and set with rubies, emeralds, diamonds, sapphire and onyx
33 × 8 cm
JE.69.2001

With feathers of rubies, breast of enamel and beak of emeralds, this extravagantly encrusted bird is a tour-de-force of Indian gem-setting.

Although previously connected with Shah Jahan on the basis of the inscription scratched into the gold under the perch on which the bird balances – which includes the weight and name ‘Ruzbihan’ (possibly a courtier of the Mughal emperor) – recent studies into gold working and stone setting traditions confirm a later dating for this spectacular piece. Falcons have always been a symbol of royalty in both Hindu and Muslim contexts. Similar jeweled birds stood guard atop a throne: paintings depicting the famed ‘Peacock Throne’ of Shah Jahan, once adorned with effigies of jeweled and enameled birds; and the bird finial of the throne of Tipu Sultan, ruler of Mysore (r. 1196-1214 AH/r. 1782-1799) – now in the Royal Collection of HM Queen Elizabeth II (RCIN 48482) – confirm the enduring popularity of this figure.

 

The Doha Hind