Jahangir was a man of taste, even for an emperor. In the many portraits he commissioned during his reign, it is very rare to see the Mughal leader without a necklace of pearls and precious stones, without a turban trimmed with emeralds and rubies, or still a finely decorated sword.
Men's Jewelry: The Instructive Lesson of the Mughals
One of these paintings can be viewed in the 'Emperors and Jewels' exhibit, held at the Aga Kahn Museum in Toronto, which explores the spectacular tradition of adornment among the Moghuls
Based on our standards, Jahangir's look might be a little too exuberant, even for a night out. Yet for a Mughal it was the bare minimum. "They wore finery from head to toe, Monday to Friday, morning to night," said Dr. Philipp, curator of the museum.
Men have always been fascinated by jewelry
Mughal men were not the first to be fascinated by jewelry. And they probably won't be the last. Historians believe that prehistoric men already used shells and bones to adorn themselves. On the side of the medieval kings, precious stones and gold objects were worn in order to establish their social rank, as an outward sign of wealth. It is impossible to determine the exact origins of this fascination. But it would seem that this desire to decorate the body with shiny objects is a universal constant.
"Wearing jewelry is a fundamentally human act," said Melanie Holcomb, curator of the Metrpolitan Museum of Art in New York. This museum will also hold a major exhibition dedicated to jewelry next fall, entitled "Jewelry: The Body Transformed".
“Jewellery is truly the earliest and earliest form of art, appearing tens of thousands of years before cave paintings. I think that jewelry is both an aspiration and a manifestation of the self that one wishes to project towards others.»
Jewelry evolves over the centuries
During the centuries that followed, jewelry fashions undoubtedly evolved. But what is today trend in the world of men's jewelry, we can find traces of it in Mughal jewels. For example, Alexander McQueen currently offers a men's ring set with a Swarovski rhinestone, while Gucci and Versace offer a large collection of imposing gold men's rings, men's bracelets that would not have stains Jahangir's wrist. But unlike the days of the Mughal Emperor, when the more the better, the key to wearing men's jewelry in style in the 21st century is restraint: the more a piece of jewelry is imposing, the less you have to carry. It is the rule.
Men's bracelets that play on finesse
However, not all modern men's jewelery is ostentatious. Whether it's high designer level or fancy quality, you can find things much more discreet. For example, the Miansai house, based in New York, offers leather or rope bracelets that can take the form of a anchor men's bracelet. This kind of masculine bracelet can be worn very easily on a daily basis, accompanied by a watch or alone. This is a great way to get started with men's jewelry, especially when you're not sure where to start. The pearl bracelets are also a good place to start, being very masculine and subtle at the same time.
Today, as in previous centuries, our jewelry fulfills a role that is as symbolic as it is aesthetic. That's what Adrien Messié, co-founder of the French men's jewelry brand Le Gramme, thinks. " I think wearing jewelry has always been a way of affirming a sense of belonging. »
Le Gramme offers thin minimalist bracelets for men, as well as rings that are defined by their weight in grams, which are discreetly engraved on each piece. This small detail gives them a subtly industrial character, while adding a touch of postmodernism. Because in the end, what is a piece of jewelry if not a beautiful piece of polished metal, he asks.
As for Le Gramme jewels, their owners wear them "as symbolic and personal objects ", they are not bracelets that are worn openly.
Jewellery, an outward sign of wealth?
If the Mughals wore jewelry so assiduously, and in particular emeralds of impressive size, it was of course to affirm their status. But confining oneself to this fact would be simplistic: there was also a very important personal dimension. It was a way of life, a will dictated by strong tastes.
Even today,wearing jewelry can be a way of communicating our tastes, status and financial means. But it is above all something that you do from a personal point of view. Whether it's a massive gemstone or a simple cord bracelet, we wear these things because we enjoy the look they give us, which gives us a feeling of satisfaction. If Jahangir were still alive today, he would probably nod. Because when you put on a men's jewellery, the confidence with which you wear it is just as important as the bracelet or necklace itself.