Bernier’s Description of Peacock Throne (Post No.2808)


Written by london swaminathan


Date: 13 May 2016


Post No. 2808


Time uploaded in London :–  17-13


( Thanks for the Pictures)




(for old articles go to OR



Francois Bernier (1620-1688) was a French traveller and a physician to Moghul emperors. Following is his description of the Peacock Throne:

In a letter to l Mothe le Vayer, dated July 1, 1663, contemporaneously translated, the Frenchman writes “The king appeared sitting upon his throne, in the bottom of the great hall of the Am-kas, splendidly apparelled. His vest was of white satin flowered and raised with a very fine embroidery of gold and silk. His turban was of cloth of gold, having a fowl wrought upon it like a heron, whose foot was covered with diamonds of an extraordinary bigness and price, with a great oriental topaz, which may be said to be matchless, shining like a little sun.


A collar of big pearls hung about his neck down to his stomach, after the manner some heathens wear here their great beads. His throne was supported by six high pillars, or feet, said to be of massive gold, and set with rubies, emeralds and diamonds. I am not able to tell you aright  neither the number nor the price of this heap of precious stones, because it is not permitted to come near  enough to count them, and to judge of their water and purity. Only this I can say, that the big diamonds are in confusion, and is the throne is said to be  worth four kouroures of rupies, if I remember well.  I have said elsewhere that a rupie is almost equivalent to half-a-crown, a lacquer to a hundred thousand rupies and kourour to a hundred lacques; so that the throne is valued forty millions of roupies, which are worth about sixty millions  of French livres.  That which I find upon it best devised are two peacocks covered with precious stones and pearls.


Beneath this throne there appeared all the Omrahs in splendid apparel upon a raised ground covered with a canopy of purified gold with great golden fringes, and enclosed by a silver balistre. The pillars of the hall were hung with tapestries of purfled gold, having the ground of gold; and for the roof of the hall there was nothing but great canopies of flowered satin fastened with red silken cords that had big tufts of silk mixed with threads of gold hanging on them. Below there was nothing to be seen but great silken tapestries, very rich of, of an extraordinary length and breadth. In the court there was set abroad a curtain tent as long and large the hall and more”.


Peacock throne of Shajahan

(from my old post)

Persian king Nader Shah invaded India in 1739 just for gold and gems like Alexander and Mohmed of Gazni. He took lot of invaluable jewellery items to Persia (modern Iran). But it is believed that the Peacock Throne of Mogul emperor Shahjahan was broken into parts and shared by the commanders of his army. But there are different thrones in Tehran (capital city of Iran) museum taken from India. These are displayed items and there are many more items not displayed. The King of Iran who ruled before Khomeini’s Islamic revolution took lot of items with him when he left the country.

But the original peacock throne was more valuable than this. It was made up of over 1100 kilo gold and 250 kilo gem stones. But the Peacock Throne in Tehran Museum is not the original one. Even the famous Kohinoor diamond was part of the throne. Two Peacocks made up of gems decorated the top of the throne. French traveller Jean Baptist Taveriner was an expert in jewellery. He had given full details in his report.

Iranian Crown jewellery is the largest royal collection in the world. The most important items were from India. Several crowns, golden thrones and chains are in the vault of Central bank of Tehran.

Persian King Nadir Shah invaded when a weak Mogul king Mohamed Shah was ruling Delhi. A rumour was spread that Nadir Shah was killed in the battle. Enraged by this rumour Nadir Shah ransacked Delhi and his soldiers killed 30,000 people in one night. Mogul king begged to him to leave Delhi promising him all the treasures in the world. Nadir Shah took the most valuable jewellery including the globe and the Peacock Throne. But he was killed by the Kurdish while returning to Persia. Immediately his soldiers and Kurdish enemies divided most of the booty.


My old posts on the same theme:

Rs1000 Crore Indian Gem Wonder (4 May 2012)

India needs an Indiana Jones ! (1 May 2012)