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5. Mughal Fish Standard
India; Deccan
17th-18th c.
gilded copper; Gilt-Copper with Iron and Silk
Length: 27 inches (69 cm)
Mughal Fish Standard
Detail: Face detail
Applied with three fins, a knop-form finial and iron teeth. Engraved with lotus motifs and fish scales. The interior with a red cloth covered cushion acting as the tongue. Fitted on the underside with a conical pole mount. Accompanying gilt copper sphere

A very rare and spectacular example of a royal standard from the Imperial Mughal Court, this fish insignia was considered one of the highest honours, granted only to those nobles above the rank of 6000 zat and to highly valued allies of the Mughal sovereign.

The figure of the fish, possibly a cat-fish, would have been attached behind with a long textile streamer which became inflated as the wind blew through the fish’s mouth. The head was accompanied by two spheres or balls of power, one of which is present, also fixed on poles. Together the head and the spheres were known as the ‘fish and dignities’ (mahi o maratib). This standard was fixed on to the top of a long pole and carried in important processions or into battle by a member of the nobleman’s retinue, who would have been riding either a camel or an elephant. The standard would thus have towered high above the ranks on foot.

Detail: Underside
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