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Mirror Frame with Tree of Life Motif

Tan jade frame with ruby, diamond, emerald flower designs.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • Tan jade frame with ruby, diamond, emerald flower designs.


Mughal dynasty (1526-1857), 17th/18th century



About this artwork

This exquisite Mughal mirror frame of pale-green nephrite jade is inlaid with gems in the kundan technique, a quintessentially Indian method of gem setting. The motif of this luxury item designed for the Mughal court is a tree of life with inlaid gold stems and leaves and buds of rubies, diamonds, and emeralds. Above the naturalistically depicted plant are two abstracted Chinese-style clouds in gold. Acanthus-leaf motifs adorn the top and bottom of the frame, while the mirror handle is in the shape of an unopened flower bud.

Jade was imported into India from the Khotan region of China. The owner of the jade concession there, the merchant Khwaja Mu’in, visited the court of Mughal emperor Akbar in 1563 and presented him with jade pieces. The earliest Mughal jades reflect Timurid, Ottoman, Safavid, and Chinese influences, and the finest jade objects were produced during the Jahangir and Shah Jahan periods in the seventeenth century. Jade was used for eating and drinking vessels, jewelry, sword hilts and scabbards, belt buckles, mirrors, and hookah parts. Inlaying jade with gold and setting it with gems was a popular Mughal technique derived from earlier Timurid traditions in Iran and Central Asia. This frame is a fine example of the union of various cultural motifs in a single object—a hallmark of Mughal art.


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Arts of Asia


Mirror Frame with Tree of Life Motif


India (Object made in)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.



Nephrite jade, gold, rubies, emeralds, and diamonds inset in the kundan technique


16.4 × 10.2 × 1 cm (6 7/16 × 4 × 3/8 in.)

Credit Line

Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Chester D. Tripp

Reference Number


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Extended information about this artwork

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