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A Peep into Royal Treasuries - from Harper's


The Hasné, or imperial treasury, of Constantinople, contains a costly collection of ancient armor and coats of mail worn by the Sultans. The most remarkable is that of Sultan Murad II., the conqueror of Bagdad. The head-piece of this suit is of gold and silver, almost covered with precious stones; the diadem surrounding the turban is composed of three emeralds of the purest water and large size, while the collar is formed of twenty-two large and magnificent diamonds.

In the same collection is a curious ornament, in the shape of an elephant, of massive gold, standing on a pedestal formed of enormous pearls placed side by side. There is also a table, thickly inlaid with Oriental topazes, presented by the Empress Catherine of Russia to the Vizier Baltadji Mustapha, together with a very remarkable collection of ancient costumes, trimmed with rare furs, and literally covered with precious stones. The divans and cushions, formerly in the throne-room of the Sultans, are gorgeous; the stuff of which the cushions are made is pure tissue of gold, without any mixture of silk whatever, and is embroidered with pearls, weighing about thirty-six hundred drachmas. Children's cradles of solid gold, inlaid with precious stones; vases of immense value in rock-crystal, gold, and silver, incrusted with rubies, emeralds, and diamonds; daggers, swords, and shields, beautifully wrought and richly jewelled—all tell a story of ancient grandeur and wealth, when the Ottoman power was a reality, and Western Europe trembled before the descendant of the son of Amurath.

Notwithstanding these jewelled riches of Turkey, however, they are surpassed by the splendor of the Shah of Persia's treasury, the contents of which have accumulated in successive periods.

Nadir Shah of Persia, in the first half of the eighteenth century, amassed enormous riches by the spoils of war. He is said to have had a tent made so magnificent and costly as to appear almost fabulous. The outside was covered with fine scarlet broadcloth, the lining was of violet-colored satin, on which were representations of all the birds and beasts in the creation, with trees and flowers; the whole made of pearls, diamonds, rubies, emeralds, amethysts, and other precious stones; and the tent poles were decorated in like manner. On both sides of the peacock throne was a screen, on which were the figures of two angels in precious stones.

This splendid tent was displayed on all festivals in the public hall at Herat during the remainder of Nadir Shah's reign.

It would be impossible to describe in a short article the splendor of the Persian treasury. One extraordinary object may be mentioned: a two-foot globe covered with jewels from the north pole to the extremities of the tripod on which the gemmed sphere is placed. His Majesty had coats embroidered with diamonds and emeralds, rubies, pearls, and garnets; he had jewelled swords and daggers without number; so because he did not know what else to do with the rest of his jewels, he ordered the globe to be constructed, and covered with gems; the overspreading sea to be of emeralds, and the kingdoms of the world to be distinguished by jewels of different color.