The Peacock Throne and today’s date….


Did you know that close to four centuries ago, on 22nd March 1635 AD, the Peacock Throne was inaugurated by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan and unveiled to the world?

Did you know that the Peacock Throne took seven years to build and cost twice as much as the world-famous Taj Mahal, made as it was of solid gold, diamonds and pearls? Kohinoor, one of the largest cut diamonds in the world weighing more than one hundred and five carats, today takes pride of place in the British crown jewels but was originally part of the Peacock Throne. In some ways, the inauguration of the Peacock Throne represented the zenith of the Mughal empire.

The Peacock Throne remains a masterpiece of Moghul creation, unsurpassed in opulence and extravagance before or after. The throne creator and master goldsmith Said Gilani wrote this couplet on the occasion of the throne’s inauguration.

Towards India he turned his reins quickly and went in all glory,

Driving like the blowing wind, dapple-grey steed swift as lightning.
With bounty and liberality, he returned to the capital;
Round his stirrups were the heavens and angels round his reins.
A thousand thanks! The beauty of the world has revived

With the early glory of the throne of multi-coloured gems

A century later in 1739, the Mughal Empire’s decline was precipitated by its defeat at the hands of the Iranian ruler Nader Shah. What had attracted Nader Shah were stories of the Peacock Throne and the wealth of the Mughal empire. Interestingly, it was again on 22nd March 1739 AD that the Mughal capital of Delhi witnessed one of its worst mass killings and slaughter. As the invader Nader Shah ordered Qatl-e-Aam, an estimated twenty thousand men, women and children were butchered in a spell of six hours- the single bloodiest massacre in the shortest time in recorded history. In many ways this sacking of the much-venerated capital city represented the demise of the Mughal empire.

And what happened to the magnificent Peacock Throne? Well, it along with other treasures was taken away by Nader Shah and his army as they went back to Iran. The total wealth carried in today’s value terms was a stupendous eleven billion dollars.

The throne then disappeared! It is rumoured of being dismantled and literally destroyed after Nader Shah’s assassination in 1747, most of the gold and precious stones looted. It is also said that parts of the Peacock throne were used in the construction of the Persian emperor’s Sun throne.

Fascinating is it not that the zenith and the demise of the Mughal Empire in India are linked to the Peacock Throne and the date 22nd March.

In Learning………Shakti Ghosal

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