Turban ornament

DATE:
18th century
MATERIAL AND TECHNIQUE:
Gold, enamel, rubies, and emeralds
CLASSIFICATION:
Jewelry
DIMENSIONS:
Overall: 4 7/8 x 4 5/8 x 3/8 in. (12.38 x 11.75 x 0.95 cm)
DEPARTMENT:
Arts of Asia
LOCATION:
303 ISLAMIC GALLERY
CREDIT LINE:
Dallas Museum of Art, gift of David T. Owsley via the Alvin and Lucy Owsley Foundation
COPYRIGHT:
Image courtesy Dallas Museum of Art
OBJECT NUMBER:
1996.212

General Description

This turban ornament from north India was originally worn only by maharajas (royalty) and their families._ _Many Indian miniature paintings show rulers with this type of ornament decorating the front of their turbans, often with a feather attached to the top finials. In the 16th and 17th centuries, wearing turban jewels was limited to the emperor and his close family members and retinue, but by the 18th and 19th centuries the custom was considerably more widespread as the right to wear such ornaments was granted to nobility.

While the turban jewel is often associated with India, in fact Mughal turban ornaments were influenced by European designs for jewelry. There were changes in design and style of such ornaments from their introduction in the 16th century up to the 19th century. The Dallas Museum of Art turban ornament, while a product of the 19th century, is typical of earlier designs used by the Mughals. Here rubies and emeralds embellish the gold base creating a sumptuous overall effect, while a red, blue, green and white enamel design decorates the reverse. This ornament is comparable to other examples from Rajasthan.

Adapted from

  • Catherine Asher, "Turban ornament" in The Arts of India, South East Asia, and the Himalayas, Anne R. Bromberg (Dallas: Dallas Museum of Art; New Haven: Yale University Press, 2013), 141.

  • DMA Unpublished material 1996.

Fun Facts

  • Generally only men wore turban jewels. In a few instance, however, women received permission to don turban jewels in the late 17th century Mughal court, but the practice was probably limited.

Web Resources