Jade and agate Cups with dragons - Aga Khan Museum
Aga Khan Development Network
The Aga Khan Museum: Glass, Rock crystal and Jade - Mughal, 16th century and later  Place your mouse over the image
 to enlarge it

Glass, Rock crystal and Jade

Object name
Jade And Agate Cups With Dragons


Mughal, 16th century and later


Cups: Height 4.3 cm; Length 16.4 cm - Bronze Setting: Height 18 cm; Width 28 cm - Marble Base: Length 16.5 cm; Width 8.2 cm

Accession number


The jade cup 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. The agate cup is unadorned. They were acquired by Baron Lionel de Rothschild (1808-97 CE) and have been in his family’s possession since that time. On one side of the Jade cup, the application exhibits the Kingdom of Navarre’s coat of arms, the so-called Chains of Navarre. The coat of arms of the Bourbons and of the French royal family, on the other side, helps to provide historical context for the object, or at least for a part of it, given that the gilt-bronze mounts appear to be attributable to the nineteenth-century English artisan Benjamin Vulliamy (1780-1854 CE). The elaboration of jade was very highly prized during the period of the Mughal Empire. The emperor Jahangir (1605-27 CE) possessed an extensive collection, part of which had previously belonged to his Timurid ancestors, and he sponsored the production of these types of luxury items. Many of them mimic the forms of older examples. During the seventeenth century it was common for vessels carved from stone to be adorned with gold filigrees and precious stones in the form of vegetable motifs. Some of these decorations recall Western prototypes due to the presence of European lapidaries working for the Mughal court. It is likely that this piece was created for someone in Europe. It is easy to conclude, given the presence of the coat of arms, that it was intended for the King of France himself, and it may have been commissioned directly by one of his representatives. It is also possible that it was a gift of state presented to the king by an ambassador. The piece bears a striking resemblance to several others from the so-called Tesoro del Delfín, which is divided between the Louvre Museum in Paris and the Prado in Madrid. The Spanish part of this collection belonged to the Dauphin of France, hence the name Louis, the heir of Louis XIV (1638-1715 CE). Upon his death it became the property of Philip of Anjou, who ruled Spain as Philip V from 1683 CE to 1746 CE. The items were brought to Madrid in 1716 CE and 1776 CE, and were deposited in the Gabinete de Historia Natural. In 1813 CE Napoleon's troops abandoned Madrid, taking it as part of a rich art booty, which upon reaching France was deposited first in Orleans and later in Paris. In 1815 CE the French government signed an agreement with Spain and returned most of the objects, though some pieces were lost in the uneven process of restitution that followed. Given the dates on which Baron Lionel de Rothschild obtained the piece, it is not unlikely that this was one of the pieces of the Madrid collection lost in the course of the looting and subsequent removal to France. The marble base and bronze dragon were not part of the original object and were added later, although the former could have been created in imitation of the original, now lost. Similar dragons form the mounts of vessels found in the Tesoro del Delfín housed in the Museum of Prado.

Other similar artefacts

10 pieces found