Robert Clive's jewelled flask and export ban by the UK government!!

The jewel-encrusted flask Credit: PA / 
Clive's huqqa smoking set Credit: PA /

Robert Clive, often referred to as  Clive of India in numerous British India history books published in the west as if he were the master over the entire Indian continent, was as much popular as the governor and commander-in-chief of India as he was for his corrupt practices, wheeling and dealing and betrayal of trust. He not only founded the basic edifice of the British Empire but also the roots of corruption  in an  otherwise clean land in the 18th century. Now, the corruption is engulfing the the entire country and very much affected are the middle class and poor people.

jewel-encrusted flask. Robert Clive.

Robert Clive's famous  victory over the Nawab of Bengal Siraj-ud-Daulah (1733 – 2 July 1757) during the Battle of Plassey  

Nawab of Bengal Siraj

on  23 June 1757
changed the fate of the Indian subcontinent. Clive  got rid of the Nawab by instigating Nawab's own relatives to kill him.  Thus began the land-grabbing spree, exploitation of Indian natives, natural resources, etc.., by the British masters. Coming back to Clive, when he landed in England after retirement, he amassed so much wealth, he had to face an enquiry commission that brought corruption charges against him . To defend his case, he gave a spirited speech before the Parliament, but ultimately ended his life by committing suicide. An able administrator and an excellent  military officer with amazing leadership qualities, till this day, he remains a   controversial man - an enigma. 

Once in a while, the British media is flooded with  some news items on the plundered colonial Indian antiques /artifacts that come up for auction at the British auction houses. A few years ago When Tipu Sultan's heavy gold ring (with Devnagari inscription of "RAM", worn at the time of his death in 1799) was put up for auction by the descendants of lord Wellesley, the sensational scoop  appeared in the front page of many British papers. The descendants of some of the famous Indian colonial officers, seek the refuge of famous  auction houses to sell the hoards  plundered by their forefathers in India. They do it  for the purpose of tidying over their financial difficulties. 

An extremely rare jeweled flask given to Clive of India after the Battle of Plassey in 1757 could be exported from the UK unless a buyer can match the £6 million price tag. plus VAT of £1.2 million. The flask has a silver interior and a gold exterior decorated in jade, emeralds and rubies.  The flask can be taken overseas unless a museum or individual can match the asking price of 6 million pounds (about $73 million).

The huqqa set of Clive has a price of £240,000,00 plus VAT of £48,000.00.  This rare piece is set with white sapphires and rubies and was part of an original collection at the imperial court in Delhi, taken to the UK from India.

In the very beginning of this year in January, 2017, Culture Minister Matt Hancock had put a temporary export ban on the rare jewelled  flask and on Clive's huqqa smoking set. This was done to save the jeweled Mogul treasures for the nation, besides offering a chance for the UK buyers to buy them. 

Mr Hancock had put exports ban on the treasures  following their sale, on the recommendation of the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Arts and Objects of Cultural Interest (RCEWA). Many people view, the ban by the British government is a good move and will save the historical items associated with colonial India.

Mr Hancock said: "These treasures are not only exquisite, they provide us with a glimpse into the fascinating lifestyle and traditions of the Mughal Court and the British presence in India at the time.
I hope that we are able to keep these unique artifacts in the country to learn more about this extraordinary history."


01. The collection of Mogul treasures was bought for £4.7 million by Sheikh Saud al-Thani, a cousin of the Emir of Qatar, at Christie's in London in April for a museum of Islamic art in the Gulf state. The other items included were jewelled ceremonial dagger, etc. In total, the Sheikh  paid £15 million for the entire stuff amassed by Robert Clive.

02. Vida Schreiber, had inherited  part of the collection from her first husband, Viscount Clive. The members of the family wanted to sell it after her death.