Three: Mughal Thumb Rings

In Three, I share three objects on a theme.

Thumb rings came into popularity in Mughal India in the 17th and 18th centuries. While their shape derives from a utilitarian archer’s ring, they became pure luxury items during the reign of Shah Jahan, the fresh-to-death Mughal emperor. Originally made from bone or brass, the rings were later carved from jade and inlaid with jewels or cloisonné. While an archer’s ring is worn with the lip against the pad of the thumb to protect it from a flexed bow string, Shah Jahan is painted wearing it with the lip flipped to the outside of the thumb — protecting him from nothing but accusations of looking insufficiently fly.

ring 1.1

ring 1.2

ring 1.3Image Credit: Image 1, Brooklyn Museum; Image 2, Sotheby’s; Image 3, Jorge Caravana Collection



One thought on “Three: Mughal Thumb Rings

  1. Oh come on, it is impossible for Shah Jahan to look anything but cool. Not just fly, but super-fly (cue the movie theme from “Superfly”),

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