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'THE NIZAMS OF HYDERABAD SARPECH'
AN ANTIQUE DIAMOND, SPINEL, PEARL AND ENAMEL SARPECH
'THE NIZAMS OF HYDERABAD SARPECH' AN ANTIQUE DIAMOND, SPINEL, PEARL AND ENAMEL SARPECH

Details
'THE NIZAMS OF HYDERABAD SARPECH'
AN ANTIQUE DIAMOND, SPINEL, PEARL AND ENAMEL SARPECH
The turban ornament set with circular, pear and variously-shaped table-cut diamonds, tumbled spinel beads, pearls, foil, gold on a lac core, silver, 10 ½ ins., strings each 15 ins., early to mid 19th century, restrung at a later date, lower left spinel dated 1607-8 and 1633-34
Provenance
Nizams of Hyderabad
Literature
Jaffer 2013, p. 161, ill. p. 194, no. 72
Exhibited
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York 2014, pp. 62-63
Victoria and Albert Museum, London 2015, pp. 104-5, no. 56
The Miho Museum, Koka 2016, p. 126, no. 93
Grand Palais, Paris 2017, p. 224, no. 166
The Doge’s Palace, Venice 2017, p. 224, no. 166
The Palace Museum, Beijing 2018, p. 264, no. 171
de Young Legion of Honor, San Francisco 2018, p. 122, no. 55

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Rahul Kadakia
Rahul Kadakia

Lot Essay

Sarpech is Hindi for 'head feather' but is generally known as a turban ornament. It was worn almost exclusively by the emperor, Indian princes and their immediate family. Considered the ultimate symbol of royalty and sometimes used as a reward for exceptional service to the emperor, it evolved from the tradition of pinning a heron's feather (kalgi) to the front of a turban. Even during the reign of Jahangir (1569-1627) a sarpech can be seen in most portraits when they were painted in miniature. During the reign of Shah Jahan (1592-1666), sarpechs became much more elaborate and began to be jewel encrusted. There are many references in the Shah Nama of expensive jighas being presented to noblemen and courtiers in recognition of deeds undertaken in the name of the emperor.
After Queen Victoria became Empress of India in 1857 no Indian Prince was supposed to wear a crown and perhaps this explains the emergence of highly elaborate and jeweled sarpechs with their own interpretation of royalty.
19th century sarpechs were significantly larger in scale. The central diamonds in this example are mounted in silver, suggesting that this sarpech was made in Hyderabad. Successor States suspended historic spinels inscribed with Mughal names from their turban ornaments as trophies.

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