All of the Mughal emperors shared an affinity for inscribed gem-stones and their chronicles and memoirs refer to several precious stones bearing personalized signatures. These were mainly in the names of Akbar, Jahangir and Shah Jahan.
Historically spinels originated in Badakhshan, a district of Afghanistan in the upper reaches of the Amu Darya (Oxus River). Mistakenly thought of as a type of ruby, these pinkish gems were the more preferred stones of the Mughal emperors and large examples were generally left uncut in order to have more room to inscribe upon.
The habit of inscribing objects and gems in order to personalize them was a Timurid fashion. The Timurids, a dynasty founded by Timur (Tamerlane) ruled over Afghanistan, large parts of Iran and Central Asia from the late 14th to the late 15th centuries. It was to the Timurids that the Mughals ultimately owed many debts in the development of their particular imperial style.
The spinel bead offered for sale is inscribed in three places and is of a fine colour that was and is to date much sought after. Lots 407 and 408 are also rare examples of very finely carved Mughal gem-stones. Both inscribed with fine relegious text, they make an important set of Mughal inscribed art.