London: Treasures from the Mughal-era, including the gem-set crown worn by Bahadur Shah II, last emperor of the dynasty which ruled India for about 200 years, will be displayed in a major exhibition in the UK.

Jewels, rare ornaments, paintings and intricately illustrated manuscripts exploring the extravagant lives of the Mughal emperors will feature in the British Library's exhibition, newspaper reported.

The empire ruled in the South Asian subcontinent for more than 400 years and at its peak, the empire encompassed most of present-day India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.

Among the exhibition's highlights will be the gold and gem-set crown worn by Bahadur Shah II, the last Mughal emperor who ruled from 1837 to 1858, who was deposed and exiled to Burma.

Set with rubies, emeralds, diamonds, pearls and turquoise, the crown was acquired by Queen Victoria in 1861 and will be on loan from the Royal Collection.

At an auction of imperial jewels and valuables from his court in Delhi, Bahadur's crown and two throne chairs were sought by Major Robert Tytler of the 38th Regiment of Native Infantry.

On his return to England in 1860, he offered the items to Queen Victoria, who bought them for 500 pounds the following year.

A rare jade and gem-studded "fly-whisk", dating from the mid-17th century, will also be on loan from a private collection.

It is thought to have been used by an attendant to Shah Jahan, who built the Taj Mahal.

The exhibition, which opens next month, will also include treasures from the reign of Jahan's father, Jahangir Shah, who ruled from 1605 to 1627 and was renowned for his love of jade and natural history.

They include a jade terrapin, modelled on a "three-striped roofed turtle", a species native to the Ganges River in India.

Among more than 200 exhibits from the British Library's collection that will go on display is an ivory sculpture of Akbar Shah II, the emperor from 1806 to 1837.

"These stunning jewelled objects, manuscripts and paintings from Mughal India, some never before exhibited, open a window into a long-diminished world," Dr Malini Roy, the curator of visual arts at the British Library, said.

"They reveal how the Mughals were determined to leave behind legacies of huge wealth and power and capture the true flavour of what Mughal court life must have been like - extravagant and colourful," Roy said.

The exhibition will also feature drawings, paintings and photographs of majestic Mughal buildings, including the Taj Mahal.


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