Mughal dynasty, 17th century
Inlaid with rubies and emeralds
This is an archer's thumb-ring, designed to protect the thumb from friction with the bow-string. It is shaped into a point at one side, and is worn with the pointed side towards the thumb-nail. This luxury example is made of pale green jade, and has been inlaid with rubies, emeralds and gold in a simple floral pattern. The Mughals were renowned for their interest in precious stones, which they wore in pendants, rings, necklaces and turban-clasps. In particular, Shāh Jahan (reigned 1628-57) is famous as a connoisseur of gems.
Similar pointed thumb-rings are depicted in Mughal miniature paintings, as worn by Mughal emperors or by members of their court circle. In the illustrated chronicle of his reign, the Padshahnama, the Emperor Shāh Jahan is shown wearing a white thumb-ring set with rubies, at a reception of the Iranian ambassador to the Mughal court in 1631. On this occasion, the ambassador was honoured with gifts from his imperial host: a crown, dagger and turban-ornament, all studded with jewels, and a gold-brocade robe of honour.
R. Hasson, Later Islamic jewellery (L.A. Mayer Memorial Institute for Islamic Art, Jerusalem, 1987)
M.C. Beach and E. Koch, The king of the world: the Pad (London, 1997)