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Palace and Power

Since gold does not tarnish, it is a natural symbol for that which does not die: the immortal and the divine.
Accordingly, political leaders throughout history have used gold and golden artwork to suggest that they too possess divine qualities.  

For example, the form of gold nimbuses around the heads of Indian monarchs suggests the radiance of the undying sun; similar imagery appears on gold coinage issued by many Indian dynasties, as well as religious figures from Judeo-Christian traditions. Indonesian crowns on display in the exhibition take the development even further, for they do not merely depict a ruler with a nimbus, but actually provide him with one. A stunning royal Chinese robe employs gold thread to weave imagery that places its wearer at the very center of the cosmos, in the process fusing temporal power and eternal glory.

The Mughal emperor Aurangzeb reigned 16581707
The Mughal emperor Aurangzeb (reigned 1658–1707), approx. 1690–1700. Northern India. Opaque watercolors and gold on paper. Asian Art Museum, Gift of Elton L. Puffer, 2004.46. Photograph © Asian Art Museum.