135 • Two carnelian seals from the Imperial Mughal Lapidary

Badi-al-zaman, Banda-E-Padshah
(the servant of the King)
1054 ah (1643 AD) of Shah Jahan I period
Size: 2.8 cm diameter

Yusuf Khan Bahadur, Khanazad-e-padshah Ghazi Mohammed Shah Alam
(in charge of the household of the palace of King shah Alam I)
1021 ah (1709 AD) regional year 3
Size: 4.3 cm diameter

Carnelian stone was excavated from the plains of Gujrat in India from 4th millennium onward. It is very hard to find larger pieces than these.  The Mughals favoured carnelian for their official seals, however in order to carve nastaliq Persian text, you have to be a very skilful calligrapher and to cut this stone you have to be a lapidary expert. These skills where only available in the royal mint, located in the fort, where they cut the metal dies to mint the coins. A small mistake in the engraving process can destroy the seal therefore it is only possible by a skilled master engraver.

Jahangir often used the term khanazadgi, meaning devoted familial hereditary service, in his memoirs.  A khanazad was fully assimilated to the polish and sophistication of Indo-Persian courtly culture in its elaborate Mughal version.  The ideal khanazad was dignified, courteous and well-mannered.  He understood the intricate rules for comportment in all social encounters