Thursday, 7 February 2013

Maharaja Jewelry About The Princes And The British Empire

In 552 at the request of tool Dalhousie Dalip Singh deposed boy-king of the Punjab, at for his portrait by George Duncan Beechey. The sittings were Donna, Mussoorie Dalip Singh's station of-exile.
Dangerous Alliances: the Making of Princely India' by the early eighteenth century the French and the British had overtaken the Portuguese and the Dutch as the big foreign traders in India. Initially neither country's merchants had shown any interest in empire-building; profit had been their sole motive in coming to the East. But profits were not guaranteed. Financial success depended upon the willingness of Mughal officials to let them establish trading posts on their soil and make agreements with the local producers. Often their settlements were attacked or uprooted when the political climate turned nasty. To guard against this, the Europeans recruited local men as soldiers, and trained, equipped, and paid them to function as permanent standing armies a novelty in 44 lb India. As the Mughal empire crumbled and new smaller states sprang up in its wake, the utility and efficiency of these mercenary armies began to draw the Europeans irrevocably into local politics.  

To a local nawab or maharaja who offered them preferential trading rights, they might hire out a portion of their army to enable him to strengthen his government and to wage war on his foes. Speculating on their own account, some of the same company's employees might lend such a prince large sums of money to help him pay for the soldiers. Always, however, the price of this assistance was high, and many a prince became fatally compromised, no longer able to buy the support of his own nobles because he was paying out so much to his European creditors. When this happened, his erstwhile European allies often demanded the right to take over his government, install a new ruler, or even annex his state in order to safeguard their all important trading interests. 

In this way, without setting out to seize territory, the European traders nevertheless acquired it and involved themselves deeply in local administration often in opposition to instructions from home. By the end of the eighteenth century the independence of all hut the strongest and most prudent of the successor states had been whittled away, and es-en these states had thought it best to forge cautious alliances with one or other of the big European powers.

In 1937 the Koh-I-Noor diamond, taken from Ran lit Singh's treasury wan fitted in the Maltese cross at the front of the crown made for George VI's consort Elizabeth still remains in her crown. It was the English East India Company that emerged victorious from this process of 'conquest by stealth', partly because its trade was based on India's rich and diverse production of fine quality textiles. In 1765, after a decade of bullying, cajoling, and bolstering the increasingly weak Nawabs of Bengal, the Company was granted permission by the Mughal emperor to collect the taxes of the eastern provinces of Bengal Bihar and, Orissa. It was a formal recognition that the British had become the power behind the throne in eastern India, and it marked the beginning of their real empire in the subcontinent the first time the British assumed responsibility for governing a huge territory and its peoples. Over the next forty years they would swallow up dozens of other provinces and states, nearly always by the same procedure of initially 'helping' an ally with loans of money, soldiers and weaponry, and then involving themselves in the administration when this assistance undermined the prince's authority. 

States that they absorbed totally within their empire became part of British India, territory that was directly governed by British officers. States in which they allowed the ruler to remain in power, retaining control of his domestic administration while they took over his defenses and foreign relations, became part of 'princely India' the India of the maharajas, nawabs, and nizams that was to survive until the British themselves finally left the subcontinent in 1947.

Royal Jewels: a Barometer of Political Change

The fate of India's royal jewels was intimately bound up with these political upheavals. A strong ruler amassed jewels; a weak ruler lost them. Inevitably, in the whirlwind of political changes that whipped through the eighteenth century„. Many jewels and gemstones changed hands again and again. A local ruler who sought an alliance with the governor of a French or British settlement might present him with valuable jewels. Mir Jafar Ali Khan, the man who was installed by the British as Nawab of Bengal after the battle of Plessey in 1757, showered jewels on his supporters, among them Britain's great empire-builder, Robert Clive (1725-74).' Ultimately, however, it did not stop the British from ousting him when he was found to be insufficiently compliant. A neighboring nawab, Shuja-ud-daula of Oudh (Awadh), who was grateful not to have suffered the same fate, also flattered Clive with jewels, including 'one of the finest Pearl Necklaces that was ever seen not worth less than £2000'. The examples of such gifts to European king-makers and military advisers could be magnified a hundredfold.

 A satire from 1788 shows Warren Hastings former governor of Bengal, bribing his monarch, George III, with riches from the East. Such caricatures reflected growing unease about corruption in the Fast India Company.
A prince might also send jewels or gemstones direct to the sovereign of the European country he had allied himself with. In 1785, the Nizam of Hyderabad, Ali Khan, a former ally of the French who was keen to switch his loyalty to the British, sent to George III a diamond that reportedly weighed over 100 carats a gem of rare size for the times. On its way to the king, however, the diamond passed through the hands of Warren Hastings, a former governor-general of Bengal, who was facing prosecution for corruption. His enemies in parliament seized upon this fact as proof that he was attempting to bribe the crown with his ill-gotten gains, and henceforth the stone became known as the Hastings diamond, obliterating from public memory the real source of the gift.

' It was an inauspicious start to the long series of lavish offerings that Hyderabad made to the British crown, which continued to 1997. In that year the seventh Nizam Mir. Osman Ali Khan presented a platinum and diamond necklace and tiara, both made by Cartier, to the Princess Elizabeth on the occasion of her marriage.' Other Indian princes who dispatched similar gifts to the British crown were the Nawab of Arcot and the Peshwa, or first minister, of the Marathas. In 1798 the latter is reported to have sent a valuable package of jewels to George III consisting of various diamond, ruby, and emerald ornaments; two long strings of pearls; and an emerald and diamond jigha with a large pendent pearl.

The fantastic headdress affected by Bahadur Shah II, last of the Mughal emperors belies his loss of power. After the Mutiny in 1857, he was exiled by the British to Rangoon. He died there in 1862.British sovereigns were personally keen to acquire these jewels, for during the English Civil War (1642-9) the Royalists had-pawned all but a few of the crown's jewels to pay for their army. They were never redeemed, and since the Restoration in 1660 British kings and queens had had to make do with hiring gems for their coronation ceremonies. After the festivities were over, the stones would be removed from their mounts and returned to the jewelers who had loaned them. It was only with the rise of their power in India that the British began again to build up a sizable collection of crown jewels. In this sense, India really did become the 'jewel in the crown' of their empire.

The Arcot Diamonds

In the late eighteenth century Britain's George III and his consort Charlotte received so many precious stones and jewels from Indian princes and the directors of the East India Company that they were dubbed the diamond eaters. Satirists loved to depict the couple gorging themselves on stones and greedily demanding more. The finest of these diamond feasts originated with the unfortunate Nawab of Arcot, Muhammad Ali Walahjah (1717-95), who, in 1777, sent Charlotte five huge brilliants. 

The son of a soldier-adventurer from north India, Muhammad Ali had gradually wrested control of the southern province of Arcot from the weakened Mughals and tamed it into his own princely state, but he was surrounded by avaricious neighbors: the French, the British, and the aggressive state of Mysore. In flying to maintain his independence from all three, he became entangled in a spiral of debts to English money-lenders in Madras and eventually he was reduced to the status of pensioner dependent on the East India Company. His gift to Charlotte had been an attempt to persuade the British to nurture rather than crush his independence, but the demands of his creditors proved the more telling.

Muhammad All Walahjah (1717-95), Nawab of Arcot, depicted in bejeweled splendour by Tilly Kettle. His gift of five superb diamonds to Queen Charlotte in 1777 was insufficient to keep the menacing East India Company at bay (derail). Charlotte had two of the Nawab's diamonds, pear-shaped stones weighing 33.70 carats and 23.65 carats respectively, set as earrings, and it is these that have become known as 'the Arcots'. She regarded all of the Nawab's brilliants as her personal jewellery, instructing that after her death they be sold and the proceeds divided among her four daughters. Her son, George IV totally ignored her wishes on this point and claimed the diamonds for himself; hence the two Arcots appeared in both his coronation crown and also that of William 1V's consort, Adelaide. 

In 1837 Charlotte's instructions were finally obeyed, and at auction the first Marquess of Westminster paid £11,000 for the Arcots. In 1930 the Parisian jeweller LaCloche mounted them for the family in the Westminster Tiara, one on either side of a 32-carat round brilliant that had been purchased at the same auction. The Arcots could be removed from the tiara and worn separately, although as the second duke's third wife, Loelia, noted, fixed by themselves on a pin they looked 'extremely bogus'. One friend who saw her thus adorned remarked, 'What on earth does Loelia think she's doing, pinning those two lumps of glass on herself?'

In 1959 the third duke sold the Westminster Tiara to meet the cost of death duties; it was bought at auction for £110,000 then a record price for a piece of jewellery by Harry Winston of New York. He had the Arcots recut and mounted separately as rings. One was sold in 1959 and the other in 1960, a sad parting of two such historically paired diamonds. The larger stone, now weighing 30.99 metric carats, was later reset by Van Cleef & Arpels as a pendant to a diamond necklace. It was sold in 1993 by Christie's in Geneva to Sheik Ahmed Hassan Fitaihi of Saudi Arabia.'

The Spoils of War

India's royal jewels did not change hands through diplomacy alone Plunder was important too, especially towards the end of the eighteenth century, when the British embarked on a series of imperialistic wars to consolidate the territory they had acquired through trade. This was the era when the word 'loot' became familiar to English-speakers. It came from the Hindi verb lento, meaning 'to rob' or `to plunder'.

The large pear-shaped diamonds in the tiara once worn by Loelia, Duchess of Westminster are the Arcots, two of the five originally presented to Queen Charlotte by the Nawab of Arcot. By the 1780s only a few remaining states challenged British supremacy in India. Foremost among these was the prosperous southern kingdom of Mysore. ably ruled by Tipu Sultan, the son of an ambitious Muslim cavalryman who had displaced the former Hindu rajas of Mysore in 1761. Desperate to clip his wings, the East India Company fought a long and bloody war against him in 1790-2, but Tipu was only subdued, not beaten. In 1798 he allied himself with the French expressly for the purpose of expelling the British from India. 

He became a citizen of the French Republic, and hired French military advisers to boost his army's prowess, repeatedly attacking the states around him who had sought the protection of the British. Another war was inevitable. Fighting broke out in spring 1799, and by early May Tipu was besieged is his fortress at Seringapatam, cut off from French succour. He was killed in battle on 4 May, taking to his grave both Mysore's hopes of independence and France's last imperial ambitions in India. Henceforth the French would be confined to two small settlements, Pondicherry on the south-eastern coast, and Chandernagore in Bengal.

News of Tipu's death triggered the looting of Mysore's treasures. Some of this was random plunder seized by soldiers in the beat of victory, hut there were also many acts of officially sanctioned vandalism, such as the breaking up of Tipu's gold and gem-studded tiger throne to provide prize money for the troops. The largest tiger head from the throne was salvaged for presentation to the directors of the East India Company in 1831 the Company gave it to King William IV and it remains in the British Royal Collection at Windsor today, along with almost two dozen other souvenirs of Tipu's fall. Other jewels and treasure were distributed by a prize committee in carefully measured shares to soldiers and officers over one million pounds' worth in total. 

Although a leper, Raghuraj Singh, Maharaja of Rewa, was one of the few princes to make Britain's Star of India cloak and in signia look properly royal. He wore gloves and orange face paint to disguise t he worst of the disease. The commander-in-chief, General Harris, was allocated a gorgeous necklace of 65 emerald beads, some weighing over 100 carats; although flawed, the emeralds were still worth E10,000. Major-General Popham received a collection of table-cut diamonds which, while they 'appeared to him as nothing better than a bunch of chipped glass', fetched a sum ten per cent higher than the prize committee's valuation when put up for sale in the bazaar. Captain Cochrane was granted enough jewels `all first class' , from royal turban ornaments to have three valuable necklaces and matching brooches in diamonds, turquoises, and gold made up in India for his three daughters.'

The British allowed Mysore to survive as a princely state, but it was not Tipu's son who would reign there; instead, they placed a descendant of the old Hindu ruling family, the Wodivars, on the throne. After their victory in Mysore they fought aggressive wars against the Marathas, Nepal, Ceylon, and Burma, each of which afforded more booty for their soldiers and the British crown. The most famous prize of all, the Koh-I-Noor diamond, was snatched in 1849, after Britain's conquest of Ran jit Singh's old state of the Punjab. Ran jit Singh, the first Sikh ruler to preside over a united Punjab, had amassed spectacular riches at his court in Lahore, but upon his death in 1839 his heirs and their rival sup-porters had risked it all in debilitating infighting. 

The British watched warily from a distance, uncertain whether to acquire yet more territory, but uncomfortable at having such a volatile state on their north-western border. In 1849, after two wars and a failed attempt at ruling through a council of regency, they annexed the state outright, .compelling its eleven-year-old maharaja, Dalip Singh, to sign away his claims to the throne. Dalip Singh was allowed to keep some jewels and valuables and others were publicly auctioned in Lahore, but the finest items were presented to Queen Victoria. Foremost among these were the Koh-I-Noor diamond, the preeminent symbol of Ran jit Singh's reign, and the beautiful rose-pink Timur ruby' (in reality a spinel), inscribed with the names and titles of successive Mughal, Persian, and Afghan rulers.

The Koh-I-Noor Diamond

An elegant 18th century jigha, featuring foiled table-cut and rectangular cut stones (spinel, diamonds, and emeralds), shows the Mughals' skill in enhancing the brilliance of shallow stones. It is said to have belonged to Robert Clive.Of all the famous diamonds in history it is the Koh-I-Noor, or 'Mountain of Light', that best captures the romance and chequered fortunes of the jewels of kings. Originally weighing 186 carats, it is assumed to have come from Golconda, but beyond that its early history is obscure. A diamond that may have been the Koh-I-Noor is said to have been owned by the first two Mughal emperors. Babur and his son Humayan, but the first reliable 'sighting' of it occurs only in the sixteenth century during the reign of Humayan's grandson. Shah Jahan. In 1739 it was carried off from India by the Persian invader, Nadir Shah. After his assassination in 1747 it fell into the hands of his former general, Ahmad Khan, who, under the name of Alimad Shah Abdali, conquered and unified Afghanistan. His successors in Afghanistan managed to hang on to it for almost half a century. until 1812 when Shah Shuja was ousted from the throne and sought refuge with Ranjit Singh of the Punjab. 

The price of Ranjit Singh's assistance was the Koh-I-Noor itself, which, when Shah Shuja appeared reluctant to pay up, was extorted from him by a judicious withholding of food and water. In June 1813 the diamond was transferred to Ranjit Singh's treasury. Ranjit Singh wore it in several settings, latterly between two smaller diamonds in an enameled bazuband. It was still in this bazuband when the East India Company claimed it on their conquest of the Punjab in 1849 and forwarded it to London as a personal gift to Queen Victoria. In Britain the diamond's arrival generated enormous excitement and crowds flocked to see it when it was put on show at the Great Exhibition of 1851. 

Unhappily, wedged inside its patented Chubb box, the Koh-I-Noor seemed to lack brilliance, a fact which many blamed on its relatively smooth Indian cut. In 1852, the Queen's consort, Prince Albert, ordered the diamond to be recut by the Dutch firm of Costar. After 38 days, an entirely new and very much smaller diamond reappeared a shallow oval brilliant of only 105.60 metric carats. Many including Prince Albert himself, were disappointed at the outcome, and one wonders whether the words of a contemporary pantomime on the Koh-I-Noor came back to haunt them:

The Maratha Peshwa, Madhu Rao Narayan, in 1792. The artist, lames Wales, has highlighted the richness of the royal jewels, among them turban ornaments of table-cut diamonds set in gold and a magnificent pearl turra. In its new state Queen Victoria wore the stone in a brooch, in a tiara, and. from 1858, in a circle set for her by Garrard, the crown jewellers. It has never been worn by a male sovereign, for on her death Victoria bequeathed it to her daughter-in-law, Alexandra, and after her to successive queens’ consorts. Accordingly it was set in the crowns for Queen Alexandra's coronation in 1902, for Queen Mary's coronation in 1911, and Elizabeth's coronation in 1937. It remains in the crown of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother today.

In the meantime the Koh-I-Noor’s previous owner, the boy-maharaja Dalip Singh (1838-93), had converted to Christianity and followed his treasures to England. For a time he was a favourite at court, popularly refened to as 'Queen Victoria's Maharaja'. He seemed to adjust well to upper-class life in Britain, and in 1863 he acquired Elveden Hall in Suffolk, which he turned into one of the best sporting estates in the country. 

But as the expenses of his life in England mounted, a growing sense of injustice gnawed at him, and in 1886 he repudiated the British connection, reconverted to Sikhism, and declared his intention of leading his people to religious and political freedom. It was an ineffectual and short-lived rebellion, albeit note-worthy for its attempts to forge an anti-colonial alliance with Sikh, Irish, Russian, and Afghan freedom fighters. In 1893, a sick and broken man, he died and was buried at Elveden. Shortly before his death he had one last moving meeting with Queen Victoria, in which he sought, and received, her forgiveness.'

The Shock of Mutiny, 1857-58

The original bazuband in which Ranjit Singh when the Koh-I-Noor diamond. When the diamond was removed in 1852 for re-cutting to Western tastes, the bazuband was fitted with a paste replica.
By the 1850s the English East India Company had ceased to be a trading company in all but name. It had not made a commercial profit for decades, and its civilian employees, the first administrative cadre to be known as 'civil servants', were engaged solely in the job of governing India. Theoretically the Mughal emperor still ruled India and the Company acted in his name. In reality, however, he was an impotent figurehead, a pensioner of the Company whose authority stretched no farther than the walls surrounding his dilapidated fortress in Delhi. 

In working within the old Mughal framework, the Company's officials had hoped to soften the impact of their usurpation of power, but inevitably British rule had unleashed many unsettling forces on Indian society. In 1857 these forces provoked a cataclysmic rebellion in north India. Known to history as the Indian Mutiny, the rebellion was as much a civilian uprising as a military one, fuelled by economic change and resentment at the displacement of traditional community leaders by new groups who had prospered under British rule. 

The early months of fighting were savage and cost many civilian lives, but by early 1858 the British, with the aid of loyal Indian troops from Madras and Bombay, had regained control of their empire. In many former rebel strongholds, but especially in Delhi, they exacted a terrible revenge for the murders of British women and children. As much as the Mutiny itself, these acts of retribution were to cast a long shadow over future relations between the two countries.

An Archaic Aristocracy

The `Timur Ruby', in reality a spinel, took the same route from the Mughal treasury to Persia, Afghanistan, the Punjab, and, finally. Britain as the Koh-I-Noor diamond. In 1853 Garrard mounted it in a necklace of gold and diamonds, with three smaller spinals, for Queen Victoria. In Britain, a furious public heaped opprobrium on the antiquated workings of the East India Company. In 1858 it was abolished and the British crown at last stood forward as the ruler of India, acting in Britain through the agency of parliament and the India Office, and in India through the viceroy and the government of India. In India itself, the Mutiny halted the pace of modernization and sent the British scuttling in search of conservative allies to shore up their rule. The princes were the big beneficiary of this new policy. There were over four hundred of them, some with states of no more than a few square miles, and none individually in a position to challenge British dominance. 

Between them, however, they accounted for nearly a third of India's land mass, and the British suddenly saw that, as royals themselves, they were potential supporters of monarchical rule. Hence, in a reversal of former practice, the British stopped annexing weak or poorly administered states, and where a ruler had no son, they sanctioned adoptions to preserve the royal line. 

They also created a complex hierarchy for the princes that imitated the structures and protocol of the British aristocracy. All of the states were ranked in order of importance, and 120 of the biggest were awarded gun salutes, indicating the rounds of cannon fire that were to be sounded on official arrivals and departures of the state's ruler. The salutes ranged from nine to twenty-one guns, with only five states Hyderabad, Mysore, Baroda, Kashmir, and Gwalior qualifying for the full salvo. In imitation of the chivalric honors’ system in Britain, new orders were created: first, in 1861, the Most Exalted Order of the Star of India, and then, in 1877, the Most Eminent Order of the Indian Empire. 

The 'GCSE that was attached to the titles of many princes stood for 'Knight Grand Cross of (the Order of) the Star of India'. Finally, on 1 January 1877, the princes were formally attached to Queen Victoria when she was proclaimed Empress of India. Henceforth they stood in relation to her much as their predecessors had to the Mughal emperor. On this occasion all of the princes. Were granted coats of arms; these were brand new designs, yet radiated an air of medieval authenticity.

Lady Curzon, the Vicereine of India, dressed for the 1903 Cornation Durbar. Her diamond and platinum tiara was made by Boucheron of Paris.The proof of Britain's success in conciliating the princes came in the wholehearted manner in which they joined in the government of India's grand durbars. The durbars were royal fetes in which hundreds of princes were gathered together to show loyalty to their sovereign and to receive tokens of the sovereign's affection for them. The two biggest durbars were held at Delhi in 1902-3 and 1911 to mark the coronations of Edward VII and George V respectively. On the latter occasion, George V and Queen Mary themselves were in attendance, the only visit made to colonial India by a reigning British sovereign.

Visits to India by members of the British royal family provided other opportunities for binding the princes to the crown, as did royal festivities in Britain. Select princes were rewarded for loyal and steady behavior with invitations to attend royal weddings, coronations, and jubilees in London, where they were able to meet their sovereign in person. The first big royal tour to India was that of Edward, Prince of Wales, in 1875-6. From the British point of view, it was a resounding success, as the princes competed to outdo each other with splendid entertainments and receptions, sure-fire tiger hunts, and gifts of astonishing magnificence. 

The Prince himself had come equipped with only a modest and predictable range of gifts, such as watches and snuff-boxes, which com-pared poorly with the two shiploads of presents that he collected in return. The jewels alone were astonishing three trunks full of emerald, diamond, ruby, and pearl necklaces, brooches, and bracelets, and, from the landlords of Oudh, a splendid golden crown of diamonds and pearls hung with emerald drops. After a time the obvious imbalance in the exchange appears to have discomforted the Prince's advisers and the British newspapers covering the tour stopped itemizing the presents he received rather than deepen his embarrassment."

The diamond wealth of the eastern state of Parma finds exuberant expression in the innovative turban ornament of its ruler, Maharaja Rudra Pratap Singh (detail). Almost inevitably, Britain's new affection for the princes came with a cost. Having undertaken to protect and sustain their rule, the British had to ensure that they turned out princes worthy of the job. This justified a new and irritating level of interference in the princes' lives, especially in educational matters. Special colleges, such as Mayo College at Ajmer in Rajasthan, were set up for the exclusive education of boys from princely families. In imitation of English public schools, these colleges attempted to instill the ideal qualities of an English gentleman in the princes: manliness, valour, honour, and a sense of fair play. Not all princes attended these colleges; some, especially in the big states, acquired a live-in British tutor. 

Many of these tutors came to love their young charges and to be trusted by them in return, but they seldom got the balance right between introducing the princes to what they saw as the enlightened ways of the West and training them to be capable Indian administrators. In 1884, Amir-ud-din Ahmad Khan, the Nawab of Loharu, a tiny state near Delhi, gave an amusing account of the cultural tensions a British guardian could stir up in a young prince:

They are taught to ride and play lawn tennis, and the Resident writes that they are enlightened and loyal princes. Then they are placed on the throne, but find it dull and go to Calcutta where they spend their money. Then they come back and grind their subjects with taxation, and the Resident writes that they are barbarous and unfit to govern. Lastly, the Government intervenes and administers the country for themselves.

In 1854 Queen Victoria commissioned Franz Xaver Winterhalter to paint Prince Dalip Singh. Winterhalter supplied the dusty Oriental background from his imagination; the sittings took place in Buckingham Palace. The Nawab was not far from the truth. It is noteworthy that those princes who were subject to a lengthy tutelage under the British were those who acquired the strongest liking for Western luxuries. In an extreme case the recipient of this training might rebel against his destiny. In the 1880s the young Raja of Pudukkottai, Martanda Bhairava           Tondaiman (1875-1928), was given the most liberal and mind-broadening education that his Cambridge-educated tutor could devise, with the result that on attaining his majority in 1899 he spent only a few weeks of each year in his own state. 

In 1897, a political officer noted with belated regret that 'the Raja is more a coloured European gentleman, with entirely European tastes, than a Native Prince'.' Demanding a companion who matched his own education and aesthetic preferences, Martanda refused to countenance an Indian bride, and in 1915 he disobeyed the viceroy's orders and married an Australian woman, Miss Molly Fink of Melbourne. By 1922 so insupportable had his appointed role become to him, that he abdicated and abandoned his state for good.

The problems arising from British attempts to groom the princes peaked during the seven years Lord Curzon's viceroyalty, 1898-1905. An exceptionally forceful character, Curzon frequently had the good of India at heart, but possessed neither the tact nor the patience to convey this fact to her people, He had a horror of English mediocrity, and regarded many of Britain's innovations in India with a mixture of disbelief and rage. The handling of the princes, especially someone like the Raja of Pudukkottai stupefied him, and he embarked on a determined course to turn them into rulers who thought and behaved like Indians, devoted themselves to their subjects' welfare, and scorned a shallow imitation of a Western lifestyle in preference for the glory of India's own traditions. 

Main living room of the Datia Palace. All sorts of furniture of different styles and periods, tiger skins, and travel souvenirs make up an Anglo-Indian hodgepodge.But Curzon had neither the time nor the subtlety to persuade the princes of his vision; instead he attempted to impose it on them with a system of overbearing rules. He banned frequent trips abroad and refused to let any prince leave the country without the permission of the government. He called them to account for extravagant expenditure, especially if it were on 'non-traditional' items (he could not abide the architectural hybrids that many were erecting as palaces), and he forced them to dismiss court favorites who were seen to have too much influence. Perhaps most insulting of all, he outlawed all references to the princes that were suggestive of European royalty. Hence in the eyes of the government's political department they became 'native chiefs' rather than princes, and the very words 'royal' and 'royalty' were expunged from the official vocabulary. Unsurprisingly, many princes regarded Lord Curzon as their worst enemy.

The Jacob Diamond

One of India's most famous diamonds is not an Indian diamond at all. The Jacob or, as it was previously known, the Imperial, was mined in South Africa in the 1880s, a huge octahedral stone that was cut in Amsterdam in 1887 to an oval-shaped brilliant, weighing 184.5 metric carats. The story of its Indian adventures says much about the political relations between the princes and the British. One day in July 1891 one of India's top gem dealers. Alexander Malcolm Jacob (c.1849-1920), arrived at the palace of the sixth Nizam of Hyderabad, Mahbub Ali Khan, with the Imperial diamond in his pocket.

The emeralds in Queen Mary’s Delhi Durbar neck-lace were a gift from the 'Ladies of India'. The neck-lace was made by Garrard and presented to the Queen in Delhi by a deputation of women headed by the Maharani of Patiala.  In the preceding five years Jacob had sold Mahbub All Khan almost 10 lakhs' worth of jewels and he was confident of making a sale on this occasion too. He had obtained the Imperial on depositing £2,000 with Kilburn & Co., the Calcutta agents for its London owners, Pittar Levenson & Co.: if he did not find a buyer for the diamond he was to forfeit the deposit. The owners' asking price was £240,000, or 34 lakhs of rupees. Jacob's price was 46 lakhs, to which, on that sticky summer's day in Hyderabad the Nizam agreed. Soon afterwards, his agent paid Jacob the first half of these sum 23 lakhs.

Jacob was a colourful figure, whose well-stocked curio shop in Simla was often likened to Aladdin's cave. Variously rumored to be an Armenian a Levantine Jew, a Muslim, a double agent, and a specialist in the black arts, he was destined for literary fame as the mysterious Lurgan Sahib in Rudyard Kipling's great Anglo-Indian novel, Kim (1901). His own account of himself was only slightly more prosaic: he claimed to be the son of an Italian who had built bridges and palaces for the sultan of Turkey before opening the first commercial soap manufactory in Turkey, and said that he had worked his way to India in the service of the British telegraph operations in the Persian Gulf. Such a history would explain his reputation as a superb linguist, and perhaps too his ability to do business in the East. Nothing, however, had prepared him for the trouble that attached to the sale of the Imperial diamond.

Like the other big 21-gun states, Hyderabad had direct political relations with the government of India, which meant that it had its own 'resident'. This was a British officer from the Indian Political Service who, although not empowered to interfere in a state's internal administration, was expected by judicious advice to prevent a ruler from straying into the twin evils of debt and sedition in 1891 the resident of Hyderabad was Sir Dennis Fitzpatrick, a conscientious officer of long experience, who, already concerned at the precarious nature of the Nizam's finances, refused to countenance his purchase of the diamond. 

Portrait of Princess Duraswar and Prince Aramjah Bahadur, Hyderabad. Whether by gentle pressure or outright threat, he got the Nizam to pull out of the deal with Jacob and instructed him to recover the 23 lakhs that he had already paid to him. The legal case that ensued was one of the most eagerly watched in the history of colonial India, filling pages of the local newspapers with court transcripts. The Nizam claimed that he had paid the 23 lakhs 'on approval' and that it was to be repaid to him if he did not like the stone, which he now said he did not. Jacob was accordingly arrested, charged with criminal deceit and embezzlement, and brought before the Calcutta High Court. 

Public sympathy was with him: most commentators, British and Indian alike, knew that the Nizam was not acting as a free agent. On 22 December, the jury revealed that they agreed with them, and Jacob was acquitted on all charges. But this still left the ownership of the diamond to be resolved. Contrary to rumour the diamond had not been quietly pocketed by the Nizam. Instead, when Jacob had been charged, the police had ordered him to produce the diamond and had entrusted it to the care of the Bank of Bengal's Hyderabad agent. 

After his acquittal, Jacob sued for its return, on the grounds that he had not received in full its agreed purchase price. He might have got it back, had he been able to return the Nizam's 23 lakhs, but by this stage, of course, he owed much more than that to the diamond's owners in London. Hence he lost his case, and in early 1892 ownership of the diamond was awarded to the Nizarn, who, at only half the original price, got a bargain. For him, however, the diamond had lost its lustre, and he ignored it for the remainder of his life.

Over generations, the Nawabs of Rampur, a small state in north India, amassed one of the finest pearl collections in the world.Jacob was ruined by the affair. He died in penury in Bombay in 1920, his estate worth only 382 rupees. His legacy was the diamond itself, which now bore his name. Hidden to the public since 1891, there are hopes that it will soon go on show at the National Museum in New Delhi, the star item in the collection of jewels that the government of India purchased from the 7th Nizam's heirs in 1995.

The Culture of Jewellery: Indian and European Exchanges

One of Lord Curzon's worthier passions as viceroy was the restoration of Indian monuments and the revival of India's traditional arts and crafts. He considered it a blot on Britain's honour that so many of India's architectural wonders should have been allowed to decay under British stewardship. In this, he was echoing a growing enthusiasm among European artists and designers for India's artistic heritage. In Britain this interest had been triggered by the Great Exhibition of 1851, which had showcased exemplary samples of traditional Indian woodcarving, metalwork, textile manufacture, and jewellery alongside the finest machine-made goods of industrial Europe. 

In the eyes of leading art critics such as Henry Cole, Owen Jones, and Matthew Digby Wyatt the handmade Indian wares were the more beautiful and 'truthful' because they retained the idiosyncrasies and flaws of the individual craftsman in their manufacture. This judgment particularly applied to the Indian jewellery: Cole, chairman of the Society of Arts and one of the organizers of the exhibition, declared himself to have been charmed by its very imperfections.

The tiger was the preeminent symbol of the reign of Tipu Sultan, Nawab of Mysore. This rare tiger-headed Kara featuring old Mughal-cut diamonds may have been connected with his court. The Great Exhibition was also the venue, of course, for the Koh-I-Noor diamond's introduction to the British public, set en cabochon in Ran jit Singh's old bazuband. It is significant that while ordinary viewers expressed disappointment at the diamond's lack of fire, many in the art world regarded the subsequent recutting of it as an act of vandalism the destruction of its natural beauty for the sake of a sterile and artificial perfection. Indians' reluctance to sacrifice size for brilliance had often been used against them by European commentators as proof of their lack of taste. 

But with increased exposure to Indian jewellery, avant-garde artists and designers began to see their point of view. John Ruskin, the foremost art critic of the day, was virulently opposed to the regular faceting of stones, regarding the pursuit of such calculated perfection as evidence of an enslaved soul. In a speech in 1876 he urged his audience to embrace the wholesomeness of cabochon stones: 'For literal truth of your jewels themselves, absolutely search out and cast away all manner of false, or dyed, or altered stones. And at present, to make quite sure, wear your jewels uncut; they will be twenty times more interesting to you, so.

'" It was a call to rebellion against anything that was artificial and obviously commercial in jewellery, and was ardently taken up by women in the Aesthetic movement and the Pre-Raphaelite circle of painters and poets. In the 1880s and 90s, during the heyday of the Arts and Crafts Movement, William Morris's coterie of friends and disciples similarly lauded the irregularly shaped and brightly coloured creations of the humble Indian jeweller. Beyond these exclusive circles, fashionable shops like Liberty's of Regent Street, founded in 1875, broadened the appeal of Indian jewellery, as did the royal family. 

Above: An emerald and diamond turban ornament of late 19th century manufacture which combines Indian techniques of foiling and kundan work with Western claw settings and knife-edge sprays. In 1863 Queen Victoria headed her wedding gifts to the Prince of Wales's bride, Alexandra of Denmark, with a suite of traditional Indian jewellery which included a pearl, emerald, and diamond at !Ala (seven-stranded necklace), an matching pearl and diamond basebands with pink, green, and blue enamel reverses. Alone with the other gifts, the suite went on public view in London at the South Kensington Museum (the forerunner of the Victoria and Albert Museum).' Similarly, the jewels and other treasures given to the Prince of Wales on his tour of India in 1875-6 were given a public outing at the South Kensington Museum, and afterwards in Glasgow as well.

In the 1860s Britain's new-found appreciation of the forms and techniques of Indian jewellery spread to the Continent. In 1869, for example, the Parisian firm of Falize produced an enameled pendant In the Indian taste', showing a spray of flowers in the red, green, and white palette of Japura enamel work.' The international expositions in Paris, Vienna and other European cities helped here, as an enthusiastic group of officials in India usually ensured that a representative collection of Indian crafts, including jewellery, was made available for display at them. 

Commercial ventures played an even bigger role. India was still the world's leading source of precious stones, and from the 1870s onwards an increasing number of European dealers began to visit India themselves to purchase stones at first hand. Many ran a lucrative sideline in 'curios', buying up antique jewellery and other art treasures to place with London and Parisian retailers of Asian exotica. Imre Schsvaiger (1868/9-1940) was one of the dealers who excelled in the business. 

Jagatjit Singh. Maharaja of Kaptirthala aged about 15. in traditional court dress and jewels. The camera gives no clue that the pudgy prince was to mature into an elegant, globe-trotting aesthete and ardent Francophile.
Of Hungarian origin, he began working in Delhi in the early 1890s as an assistant with S.J. Tellery & Co., an expatriate firm of art dealers and carpet manufacturers. By about 1905 he had set up in business on his own with shops in Delhi, Simla, and, ultimately, London. In the 1910s he became one of the principal suppliers of Indian stones for the Parisian house of Cartier. Other Continental gem dealers who ventured to India were A.M. Jacob, a merchant of Italian descent who traded out of Simla in the 1880s until he was bankrupted in an unhappy transaction with the Nizam of Hyderabad; and Victor Rosenthal (1880-1961), a pearl dealer from the Caucasus who set up business in Bombay in about 1900, when that city was the world's top market for pearls. His elder brother, Leonard (b. 1875), had a shop in the Rue Lafayette whence he supplied Parisian jewellers with the pearls and gems that Victor and another brother, Adolf, collected from around the globe.'

Europe's fascination with Indian art and design was not without its drawbacks, however, especially for Indian jewellers. On the one hand their work was gaining an international reputation and Europeans were willing to pay good money for their best pieces. On the other hand, these foreign arbiters of taste were certain that good Indian jewellery could not stray far from its roots. There was an antipathy to Indian jewellers introducing Western elements into their work; hybridity was equated with bastardization. An element of racism was at work here. 

A pearl and turquoise pairihar or paneled necklace with enamel reverses. It was bought in India in 1881 by Marian Itivette-Laneve, who admired it for its traditional workmanship and the purity of its design.While it was all right for Europeans to experiment with Indian styles, it was commonly understood that Indians were not informed or discriminating enough to be able to borrow successfully from the West. Indian jewellers were regarded as successful imitators, not innovators. In 1881 Marian ltivette-Laneve told Lady Granville that traditional jewels were becoming hard to find because: 'unfortunately the native Jewellers are being introduced to English patterns and they do not improve.

Lord Curzon shared this prejudice. In 1902 he organized a groundbreaking exhibition of Indian art to accompany the Coronation Durbar in Delhi at the end of that year. Announcing that the search for unadulterated artistic merit was paramount, he excluded, as far as he was able, any works that showed signs of European influence. He ruefully acknowledged that some Western-style objects had crept in, simply because 'the number of teapots, cream jugs, napkin-rings, salt-cellars and cigarette-cases that the Indian artisan is called upon to turn out is appalling'. Overall, however, his hopes for a revival of traditional Indian artistry were high:

I should like to see a movement spring up among the Indian chiefs and nobility fir the expurgation or, at any rate, the purification of modem tastes, and Jr a reversion to the old-fashioned but exquisite styles and patterns of their own county. ... there is no need to rush to the European shops at Calcutta or Bombay, in almost every Indian State and Province ... there still survive the artificers who can satisfy the artistic, as well as the utilitarian tastes of their countrymen.'

Maharaja Jewelry About The Princes And The British EmpireUnhappily for Lord Curzon and his fellow purists, the modernizing influences of the West were far stronger than the appeal of his campaign for traditionalism, especially among the princes, the very class of men whom he hoped would initiate artistic revival. This was particularly the case with jewellery. Owing to their exposure to the West through their education, travels abroad, and social intercourse with European officials and friends, the princes were quicker than other Indians to become enamored of Western jewellery designs and techniques. Moreover they had the purchasing power to force the pace of change; those jewellers who did not wish to lose the princes' custom to foreign suppliers had to adapt quickly. Bombay's Parsi industrialists, famed for both their wealth and their friendliness to European ways, were the only other group who exerted a similar pressure on local jewellers to borrow elements from Western jewellery.

There is ample evidence that Indian jewellers did respond promptly to their clients' demands. In recent years, international auction houses have sold many Indian jewels dating from the late nineteenth century that have featured unmistakable signs of a hybrid nature, such as en tremblant mounts, faceted stones, and the bows, ribbons, and lacy designs typical of the late-Victorian and Edwardian eras. Claw settings also feature in these hybrids, proof that jewellers were willing to experiment with lighter, more delicate mounts than the heavy gold and enamel-backed kundan work of traditional jewels. Many of these innovative jewels have been turban ornaments, confirming that it was demand from the princes that was fuelling the changes.

The specific influences on the princes' taste were numerous and varied; ironically, even lord Curzon may have been an indirect force for change. In 1898 his wife, the beautiful Lady Mary, commissioned from the Parisian house of Boucheron a diamond and platinum tiara featuring claw- and collates brilliants in a delicate fleur-de-lys pattern!' She wore the tiara frequently as vicereine, most famously at the 1903 Coronation Durbar, when its brilliance was enhanced by her celebrated 'peacock dress', created for her by Worth of Paris. Everybody's jewels were under scrutiny on this occasion, and it is perhaps not unconnected that two years later. in 1905, the Maharaja of Kapurthala ordered a similarly deli cute diamond head ornament from Boucheron.

The superb carving on the emerald drops in these earrings represents Mughal craftsmanship at its height. The emeralds once belonged to Robert Clive; their European diamond mounts date from about 1900.Other local influences tin the princes' taste came from expatriate jewellers, who routinely employed Indian craftsmen in their workshop and produced a wide range of hybridized jewels anti household goods jewellers such as Hamilton's and Cooke & Kelvey, of Calcutta (founded in 1808 and 1859 respectively) always kept an eye on the potential market among the princes, although most of their intended clients were Europeans resident in India." P. Orr & Sons of Madras (founded in the 18505) was particularly successful in wooing the princes. In this they were probably helped by the international fame of their 'Swami' work, jewels and domestic items like tea services that were made of gold or sill see heavily embossed with images of Hindu deities. 

In May 1885 one of the firm's partners. Frederick Emery met with the prime minister of Hyderabad on behalf of the young Nizam, Mahbub .kill Khan. He succeeded in winning a commission for not a bad morning's work', he reflected. Three years later, after the Nizam had attained his majority, an even trigger commission beckoned, and Emery returned to Hyderabad It was a huge adventure for him, and the highly coloured account of his trip that he gave his mother should warn us against mistaking a common love of jewellery for deeper cultural understanding. Indians and European might have been learning to appreciate one another's jewels, but an enormous gulf still divided the two races. To Emery there was something so irremediably alien about the young ruler that it was impossible he should ever look upon him as he might a European customer:

A New Wave of European Jewellers in India

A remnant of princely glory: In 1980 ails magnificent howdah once the property, of the royal family of Baroda came up for, sale in Germany.By 1900 the evidence that there was a wealthy class of jewellery buyers in India who had adventurous tastes and were willing to break with local traditions began to lure foreign jewellers to the country like the gem dealers 'kilo preceded them, they sometimes came to purchase stones, but they were also keen to find new customers for their luxury wares. Two leading British jewellers, the Goldsmiths' and Silversmiths' Company': and Garrard, had their own 'colonial departments' which produced items expressly for the Indian market. The Goldsmiths' and Silversmiths' Company permanently stationed a salesman in India to secure commissions and to study the local market. 

Garrard originally sold items to India through expatriate jewellers like Hamilton & Co., but it opened its own showroom in Calcutta in time for the Coronation Durbar of 19112. The first of the Continental jewellery houses to venture to India appears to have been the St Petersburg firm of Faberge. From 1908 until 1917 the firm's London branch spent over £9,000 on funding annual trips to Asia, principally India, Bangkok, China, and Japan. Unhappily, no details of these trips are known to have survived, but it is possible that the visits to India were inspired by the custom that the London shop received from Indian princes. Ganga Singh, the Maharaja of Bikaner, is known to have patronized them in London."

In 1910 a young son of the Maharaja of Ransda takes a ride on a royal elephant. Above him is suspended a chattra, or umbrella, ancient symbol of Indian royalty.The firm of Faberge disappeared with the Russian revolution, but another Continental newcomer India, the Parisian house of Cartier, was destined to have a much bigger impact on Indian jewellery, especi4 that of the princes. Founded in 1847 by Louis-Francois Cartier, by the early 1900s the firm was enjoying a enviable level of international royal patronage. Its Indian connections began indirectly, when, six months after Queen Victoria's death in 1901, Pierre Cartier had been commissioned by the new queen, Alexandra, t design an Indian-style necklace to suit dresses featuring panels of heavy Indian embroidery that Lady Curzon had sent to her. The necklace was composed of pearls and cabochon emeralds and rubies taken from India jewels already in Alexandra's possession, perhaps from pieces collected by her husband on his Indian tour in 1875-6. 

Cartier received a similar commission from her in 1904, and this time took only the diamonds from an Indian emerald, ruby, and diamond necklace to create a collier thane (literally 'hairnet necklace'), a lacy platinum setting of bows and laurel leaves of round brilliants, interspersed with large pear-shaped drops. Capitalizing on the Queen's valuable patronage, in 1902 Cartier opened a permanent branch in London which was soon selling items from stock to passing maharajas. In 1909 the firm made its first direct canted with India. In May of that year two of its Brands vendeurs, Jules Glaenzer and M. Prieur, embarked on a seven month speculative journey to Siam, Hong Kong, Singapore, and India. The Indian leg of the trip was a disappointment. Of his stay in an 'extremely ugly and hot Calcutta', Prieur recalled the visit of a gem dealer from.

Agra who offered him 'pearls at about twenty-three times their normal value, and ... two nicely coloured pear emeralds for which he wanted 75,000 francs. I asked him if there was a special lunatic asylum for gem-merchants!' On inquiring about potential customers in India, Prieur noted with reservation that the Nizam of Hyderabad ... is the richest; for this kind of customer one would need rather gaudy stones'.' Nevertheless the attempt was repeated. In 1911, Jacques Cartier (l884-1942), a grandson of Louis-Francois and head of Cartier's London branch, made his own exploratory voyage to India. 

Maharaja Jewelry About The Princes And The British EmpireHe stopped en route to visit Cartier's pearl suppliers in the Persian Gulf and looked forward to establishing similar relationships with gem dealers in India, but he travelled there primarily to assess the market for Western-styled jewellery and bijouterie among the princes. Laden with watches, carriage clocks, and small items of platinum-set jewellery such as brooches and combs, he crisscrossed the subcontinent, forging potentially golden links with, among others, the rulers of Baroda, Hyderabad, Kapurthala, Nawanagar, and Rampur. After the First World War, other Western jewellery houses were to follow in Cartier's footsteps, among them Boucheron, Mauboussin, Van Cleef & Arpels, and Harry Winston, but Jacques Cartier's pioneering voyage ensured that it was his firm which got the lion's share of the princes' foreign commissions.

Imperial Splendour: the Coronation Durbar of 1911

Jacques Cartier's first trip to India was timed to coincide with the Coronation Durbar in Delhi in December 1911. This sumptuous royal pageant marked the zenith of British imperial power in India, an extraordinary week of ceremonies, parades, military reviews, festivities, garden parties, and polo matches that brought together over 200,000 people in a vast canvas city stretched out in the shadow of the Mughals' ancient Red Fort. Each of the princes brought his own magnificent encampment and hundreds of gorgeously attired bodyguards and servants; mile upon mile of temporary palaces and royal gardens shone under Delhi's pale winter sun. They had come, as they knew they must, to pay homage to their new King-Emperor, George V. But from around the world, hundreds of journalists and society commentators flocked to see the princes themselves, the fantastic vestiges of an Oriental wonderland that had captivated the West's imagination for centuries. 

Maharaja Jewelry About The Princes And The British EmpireWith barely an exception, the princes performed the glittering roles assigned to them at the durbar with such grace and magnanimity that outsiders could have been forgiven for thinking that the princes were India, that the great tracts of India ruled directly by the British did not exist. Perhaps even the British themselves dared to believe that the loyalty of the princes was replicated throughout India. Any illusions that this was so were rudely shattered when, only a few months later, the viceroy, Lord Hardinge, returned to Delhi to inaugurate its new status as the capital city of British India. 

As he rode in state upon an elephant through the crowded streets of the old city, a bomb was lobbed into the viceregal howdah, grievously wounding him and killing his attendant. Hardinge's would-be assassin was a member of a Bengali terrorist sect, devoted to winning independence for India. The British cracked down hard on the nationalists, but ultimately it was with them, rather than the princes, that they would have to reach an accommodation.

Writer – John Adamson
Visit Also:

Silver Head Pins 

Bead Frames

No comments:

Post a Comment