Traditional Indian Jewellery – Sarpech
This Sarpech from Rajasthan is of uncut diamonds and elongated emerald drops. It is topped by a paisley crest. Elaborate Jaipur enamel work covers the reverse of the ornament, not seen here.
On the wall-paintings at Ajanta may be seen similar head ornaments worn as tiaras by women 2000 years ago. However the Sarpech or Shirpej, meaning an adornment for the head, developed, in medieval India, as an ornament worn on princely turbans. It reached perfection in the courts of the Moghuls and the princes of Rajasthan. Moghul queens also wore a similar jewel, but by and large it developed as a predominantly male turban ornament.
The use of uncut stones in ornaments was popularised in the north by Moghul emperors who admired precious stones in their pristine and pure form. Enamelling reached its pinnacle of perfection in Jaipur, Maharaja Man Singh having brought five Sikh enamel workers from Lahore to his capital in the 16th century to develop this art.