The Peacock Throne or Mayurasan , which was originally named Takht-e- tavus , or the Jewelled Throne, was one of the most magnificent artifacts the world has ever known.
It was planned and fashioned in the 17th century for Mughal emperor Shah Jahan. Apparently the throne was commissioned on the very first day of his ascension to the throne, not only to celebrate the glory of the empire but also to display the opulence of the treasury. It became the emperor’s favourite project. The production was allotted 1,150 kg of gold and 230 kg of precious stones. According to legend the throne was created over a period of seven years by a group of architects and craftsmen. The throne occupied a place of pride in the Diwan-i-aam, the imperial audience hall, where the emperor appeared before his subjects. The emperor was even painted sitting on this throne. Records suggest that the throne was also shifted betweenDelhiandAgra, particularly on ceremonial occasions.
The name of the Peacock Throne was derived from the design. Two peacocks stood behind the throne, with their tails spread out. Various jewels like diamonds, sapphires, rubies, emeralds and pearl were engraved in the throne. All in all, there were estimated to be about 116 emeralds and 108 rubies. The celebrated Kohinoor Diamond was placed in it. Some of the other fabled gems embedded in this bejeweled structure were diamonds such as The Shah, the Jehangir and rubies like The Timur. These gems signified the colours of the peacock’s feathers. In dimensions the throne was 6 feet by 4 feet and was rectangular in shape. It stood on four gold encased feet above which rose twelve columns decorated with bands of pearls. The pearls were supposed to be the most precious adornments of the throne. These columns supported the arched silken canopy of the throne. Silver steps were built to climb up to it. Another significant attribute of the throne was that embedded in it is was a verse in 20 couplets composed by Quidsi, the poet laureate at Shah Jahan’s. Written in emerald the couplet sings praises of the Mughal emperor and his achievements.
The throne was usurped from Shah Jahan by his son Aurangzeb in 1768 and remained in his possession for almost fifty years afterwards.
The French jeweller Tavernier, who saw Delhi in 1665, "described the throne as of the shape of a bed (a "takhta" i.e. 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."
When Nader Shah came to power in Iran, his first task was to defeat the Hotaki forces who had invaded Iran from what is now Afghanistan, and captured the capital city of Isfahan. After pushing them back to Kandahar, the Hotakai forces fled to the Mughal Court, and the refusal to turn them over was the pretext Nader Shah used to invade Mughal lands. By this point in their history, the Mughals were severely weakened, and were no match for Nader's disciplined army, and he took Dehli in March 1739. But he had no illusions about being able to to hold the territory so far away from Iran, and quickly negotiated peace terms with the Mughal emperor, Muhammad Shah. Part of the price for withdrawal was much of the treasury, including the Peacock Throne.
There is some dispute as to what happened to the throne at this point. Some sources claim that it broke in transit and it's jewels disassembled, others say that this only happened after the death of Nader in 1747. In any case, we do know that the parts of the throne were dispersed all around Iran. The Kooh-e Noor was taken by one of Nader's generals, Ahmed Durani, to his native Afghanistan, where it remained until his descendants were forced to turn it over to Ranjit Singh. It was in turn captured by the British and taken to London, where it remains to this day.
Another throne was created in Iran, called the Naderi Throne. Its design was inspired by the Peacock Throne, and some legends say the legs were actually from the original:
Contentions still remain as the mystery of the Peacock Throne continues to puzzle historians. Where exactly are the remnants of this marvelous work of art?
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