Following the conquest of Kashmir in 1819, a yearly tribute was paid partly in shawls woven from the finest goats fleece and Lahore became a major centre for the shawl trade. Indeed, the Napoleonic generals who helped the Maharajah train his army in modern warfare acted as agents for the export of shawls to Europe. The development in their design, from the simple floral motifs of the Mughal court to overblown, European-influenced patterns is documented in the show. The manufacture of ordnance was transformed under Ranjit Singh. Apartment living room decorating ideas Lord William Bentinck (appointed first governor-general of India in 1833) presented British cannons to him in 1831, little thinking that copies would be used to devastating effect against the British in the Anglo-Sikh Wars which broke out after Ranjit Singhs death in the 1840s. When, in 1849, the country was annexed by the British, the most spectacular gems in the royal treasury were shipped to London for display at the Great Exhibition of 1851, among them the legendary Koh-i-Noor (mountain of light) diamond. It had once been owned by Shah Jahan (r. 1628-58), was seized in the eighteenth century by the rulers first of Iran, then of Afghanistan and, in 1813, was reluctantly handed over to Ranjit Singh in return for his rescue of the deposed head of the Afghan royal family, Shah Shuja, from captivity. But poorly lit, it failed to impress visitors to the Crystal Palace with its lustre and was recut, losing forty-three per cent of its original weight in the process. The 106-carat stone is now set in the queen consorts crown made for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother for the coronation of 1937.
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