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Mogul Emerald - One of the Largest Emeralds in the World

217.8 carats World's Biggest Carved Emerald - Mogul Emerald
 217.8 carats One of the World's Biggest Emeralds - Mogul Emerald. Photo courtesy : Christie's
Mogul emerald is a magnificent carved emerald, with a rich history, belonging to the period of the last of the four great Mughal Emperors of India, dating back to late 1690's. The dates corresponds to the period of rule of Emperor Aurangzeb. It is one of the largest of all inscribed emeralds known to exist in different collections and the only known carved and dated emerald of the classic Mughal period.

Characteristics :

Mogul Emerald is of Colombian origin with a dark green color weighing 217.80 carats. The emerald has been deliberately cut by the Indian cutters and polishers of the period, as a table-cut, rectangular shaped gemstone, with two parallel flat rectangular faces, with intricate floral designs on one side and beautiful Arabic calligraphy in the Naksh script on the other. The dimensions of the emerald are 52 x 40 x 12 mm, and the mid-point of each of the four sides of the rectangle has been drilled for attachments, so that the gemstone could be mounted and worn as a talisman, with the Arabic inscriptions facing outwards.The inscription represents an invocation of the Shia sect of Islam invoking the blessings of Almighty God, the most merciful and compassionate, of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and the twelve Imams that followed after him.
Arabic inscription on Mogul Emerald
Arabic inscription on Mogul Emerald.
The translation of the Arabic invocation into English reads as follows :-

  •  Line 1 - Yah Rahman - Oh merciful one!  Yah Raheem - Oh compassionate one! Yah Allah - Oh God!Allah-humma salli ala Muhammad wa  Ali - God bless Muhammad and Ali
  • Line 2 - Wa Fathima wa al-Hassan wa Hussain wa Ali -  and Fatimah and al-Hassan and al-Hussain and Ali
  • Line 3 - Wa Muhammad wa Ja'far wa Musa -  and Muhammad and Ja'far and Musa
  • Line 4 - 11.V - 1107, Wa Ali wa Muhammad wa Ali - and Ali and Muhammad and Ali
  • Line 5 - Wal Hussain wal Mahdi al ka'hirah - and al-Hussain and the steadfast Mahdi
The 12 Imams (Leaders of the faith) of Shia Islam after the death of Prophet Muhammad are :-

1) Imam Ali Ibn Abu Ta'lib (4th Caliph of Islam) 2) Imam Hassan (son of Ali)  3) Imam Hussein (son of Ali) 4) Imam Ali Zain-al-abdeen  5) Imam Muhammad al-Baqir  6) Imam Ja'far as-Sādiq 7) Imam Mūsa al-Kazim 8) Imam Ali al-Ridā 9) Imam Muhammad al-Jawād 10) Imam Ali al-Hādi 11) Imam Hassan al-Askari 12) Muhammad al-Mahdi al-Hujjah.

The names given are the names appearing on the invocation carved on the emerald and are names of 12 Imams in the chronological order in which they succeeded one another. The invocation bears only the first name of each Imam, except for the 12th Imam Muhammad al-Mahdi al-Hujjah, whose name appears as Mahdi, which in Arabic means the "divinely guided one." Muhammad al-Mahdi al-Hujjah is also known as Muhammad al-Muntazar, the hidden Imam, as the Shia Muslims believe that in the year 878 A.D. the Imam disappeared without any trace. His material body is believed to have transformed into the spiritual world and shall remain hidden until a few years before the day of judgment, when he will re-appear as a messianic deliverer known as the Mahdi, who will fill the earth with justice and equity, restore true religion, and usher in a short golden age lasting about seven years before the end of the world.

Reverse side of the Mogul Emerald
Reverse side of the Mogul Emerald. Photo courtesy: Christie's

The reverse side of the emerald-tablet is carved with floral and foliate decorations, typical of the naturalistic decoration of the period, reflecting the Mughal love of nature. The decoration consists of a central rosette, with a single large poppy flower with basal foliage leaves on either side, situated above and below, with a line of three smaller poppy flowers with basal foliage leaves,  on either side. The edges of the rectangular faces are carved right round with cross pattern incisions.
After the Mogul period, the emerald most probably would have entered the private collection of a connoisseur of gemstones in India, in whose family it remained, until Alan Caplan, acquired the renowned gemstone during one of his many trips to India where it was offered for sale.

Mogul Emerald remained with Alan Caplan until his death in 1998, and was sold by his heir in the year 2001, when the stone was entrusted to Christie's for the sale. The gemstone fetched a record price of 2.2 million dollars at this auction. It is reported that the gemstone is now in the Museum of Islamic Art of the Independent Emirate of Qatar.

Fascinating, I would say! What do you think about this beautiful emerald?
Share your thoughts in the comments & reactions


nice..this was the second largest carved ancient emerald after buda emerald....but now the oldest and largest carved ancient emerald is the phoenician emerald alabastron dated 800bc to 1200 bc........ at 315 carat ...see at freeonlinemuseum..

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