East Meets West: Jewels of the Maharajas from The Al Thani Collection presents a diverse cultural portrait through the examination of luxury goods produced on the Indian subcontinent from the time of the Mughal Empire in the sixteenth century to the present. The early exchanges between India and the West in the spheres of art and design began when the Mughals arrived in the subcontinent in 1526, a time when Europeans already had trading posts established in the country. Mughal emperors were curious about precious objects from the West, such as jewelry and hardstone mosaics, and the methods used for their production. Europeans responded by sharing some of these technologies, which, alongside gold, silver, and Colombian emeralds, paid for their early imports from India, including diamonds, textiles, and spices. This encounter expanded from the early trade run by the Portuguese to the extensive commerce operated by the British East India Company, which controlled large parts of India by the late eighteenth century. These enterprises were eventually subsumed by the Raj, established in 1858, when the maharajas ceded their power to the British government but retained their ceremonial positions.
Published on the occasion of a major exhibition at the Legion of Honor in San Francisco, this rich volume explores the many compelling dialogues between the East and the West, including the topic of gender. Unlike Europe and the West, where women are the principal wearers of jewelry, it was the male rulers of India—emperors and maharajas—who disported the most extravagant programs of jewelry, such as elaborate bangles, bracelets, rings, necklaces, and earrings, as well as the most characteristic jewel, the turban ornament. Further subjects, including the formation of this significant collection and detailed descriptions of many of its prized objects, are also undertaken in scholarly essays by Martin Chapman and Amin Jaffer. Comprising lavish reproductions of some of the most beautiful Indian jewels from over the course of more than four centuries, contextualized with Indian miniatures and other dazzling works of art, East Meets West is a treasure trove of sumptuous objects and fascinating stories.
Hardcover, 176 pages