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.
- Mirror Frame with Tree of Life Motif
- 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.)
- Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Chester D. Tripp