Colour of Paradise

The Emerald in the Age of Gunpowder Empires

Kris Lane

View Inside Price: $85.00


April 27, 2010
320 pages, 6 x 9
16 pp. color illus.
ISBN: 9780300161311
Cloth

Also Available in:
e-book

Among the magnificent gems and jewels left behind by the great Islamic empires, emeralds stand out for their size and prominence. For the Mughals, Ottomans, and Safavids green was—as it remains for all Muslims—the color of Paradise, reserved for the Prophet Muhammad and his descendants. Tapping a wide range of sources, Kris Lane traces the complex web of global trading networks that funneled emeralds from backland South America to populous Asian capitals between the sixteenth and the eighteenth centuries. Lane reveals the bloody conquest wars and forced labor regimes that accompanied their production. It is a story of trade, but also of transformations—how members of profoundly different societies at opposite ends of the globe assigned value to a few thousand pounds of imperfectly shiny green rocks.

Kris Lane is professor of history at the College of William and Mary. His previous books include Pillaging the Empire: Piracy in the Americas, 1500–1750 and Quito 1599: City & Colony in Transition.

"Kris Lane's The Colour of Paradise contains everything you could possibly wish to know about emeralds. This is an unusually rich and though-provoking book . . . a work of studious research, packed with exotic detail."—Sunday Telegraph

"Kris Lane has written an engaging and meticulously researched study that uncovers the 'social life' of emeralds in the early modern period. . . . Colour of Paradise is a valuable addition to an ongoing attempt to use commodities as a conduit to understand the interconnected and interdependent character of global history."—Dr Paul Drinot, BBC History Magazine

"A scholarly and fascinating book which fills an important gap in our understanding of the history of the coloured gem trade; a history that has, until now, been remarkably poorly served.’’—Gems & Jewellery