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Last Chance To Save Jewelled Mughal Treasures
A flask, lined with silver and covered with jade set with rubies and emeralds in gold deferred at the recommended price of £2,972,768.75; an inset banded agate and garnet flywhisk handle deferred at the recommended price of £918,968.75.
LONDON, ENGLAND.- Arts Minister Estelle Morris has placed a temporary export bar on four beautiful Mughal items, once the property of Robert Clive (1725-1774). “Clive of India” led a varied and controversial life resulting in a huge personal fortune. His possession of such sumptious Mughal artefacts not only emphasises his extraordinary wealth, but also alludes to his high position among the social hierarchy of eighteenth-century India.

The items are a rare survival of a fully documented 18th century British collection of Indian art, recording an encounter between very different cultural traditions. They consist of a unique 17th century jewelled jade flask, its quality suggesting that it was made for the Mughal court; a banded agate and garnet flywhisk handle; a ceremonial dagger with jewelled jade hilt; and an enamelled silver huqqa set with sapphires and rubies.

Robert Clive was sent to India aged eighteen as a clerk for the East India Company where later in his career he took command of a Company military force, proving himself to be a good tactitian. He won fame and was lauded as a National hero in Britain when he defeated the Nawab of Bengal at the battle of Plassey in June 1757. He later became British governor of Bengal, and one of the founders of British rule in India. However his huge personal wealth resulted in an accusation of financial irregularities, provoking a debate in Parliament. He never recovered from the scandal, and the depression that had plagued him throughout his life resulted in his suicide in November 1774.

Estelle Morris‘s ruling follows a recommendation by the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art that the export decision be deferred. The deferral will enable purchase offers to be made to purchase any or all of the artefacts at the following agreed fair market price(s):
A flask, lined with silver and covered with jade set with rubies and emeralds in gold deferred at the recommended price of £2,972,768.75; an inset banded agate and garnet flywhisk handle deferred at the recommended price of £918,968.75; a Mughal ceremonial gem-set jade hilted dagger deferred at the recommended price of £747,818.75; a sapphire and ruby inset enamelled silver huqqa set deferred at the recommended price of £97,448.75 (including VAT). The above items are deferred until after 13 December 2004 with the possibility of an extension until after 13 March 2005 if there is a serious intention to raise funds with a view to making an offer to purchase any one or more of them.

The Committee have also awarded a starred rating to the jewelled jade flask, meaning that every possible effort should be made to raise enough money to keep it in the country.

Anyone interested in making an offer to purchase one or more of the Mughal items should contact the owner’s agent through:

The Secretary
The Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art
Department for Culture, Media and Sport
2-4 Cockspur Street

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