The Aga Khan Museum’s collection includes a jade cup from the artistic Mughal period

The Aga Khan Museum houses and exhibits some of the most important works of Islamic art. The collection incorporates miniatures and manuscripts brought together by Late Prince Sadruddin and Princess Catherine Aga Khan with artefacts and works of art collected by Mawlana Hazar Imam over the past several decades.


This cup in the Museum’s collection, dated 16th century Mughal India, was carved from a piece of pale green jade and adorned with a gold vegetable motif in which stems are interlaced with golden rosettes and palm leafs. During the 17th century, it was common for vessels carved from stone to be adorned with gold latticework and precious stones in the form of vegetable motifs; this art form was highly valued during the Mughal period (1527-1857).

The Mughal Emperor Jahangir (r.1605-27) possessed an extensive collection of such items and sponsored the production of similar luxury items. Some of these decorations resemble Western patterns due to the presence of European artisans working for the Mughal court. It is likely that this piece was created for someone in Europe.

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About the Mughals

The Mughals were a Muslim dynasty of Turkic-Mongol origin that ruled most of northern India from the early 16th to the mid-18th century, after which it continued to exist as a considerably reduced entity until the mid-19th century. The Mughals built a magnificent empire based on well-founded and enduring institutions, laying the foundations of a dynastic rule which inaugurated the most glorious period in the history of Islam. As patrons of art and architecture, the Mughals built the most magnificent monuments on the Indian landscape and produced some of the finest expressions of Islamic art. A constant mutual exchange between Muslims and non-Muslims resulted in the creation of a unique dimension in the arts. The close relationship between the artists and craftsmen in developing new designs was a feature of Mughal art that was facilitated by the development of workshops within the Imperial palaces.

Philippa Vaughan“Indian Subcontinent: from Sultanate to Mughal Empire.” Islam: Art and Architecture Edited by Markus Hattstein and Peter Delius. Konemann. Cologne, 2000
Aga Khan Museum

Research by Nimira Dewji

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