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Spittoon or cuspidor with depictions of Mogul emperors and wives, India, 1601-1700

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Made from ivory, this spittoon may have been used in a public area or within the home. Sometimes called a cuspidor, it is painted in gold with illustrations of four rulers of the Mughal (Mongol) empire and their favourite wives. The Mughal Empire was the Muslim empire of India. The four emperors belonged to four successive generations of the same family. Akbar the Great (1542-1605) ruled from 1556 until 1605; Jahangir (1569-1627) ruled from 1605 until 1627; Shah Jahan (1592-1666) ruled from 1627 until 1657; and Aurangzeb (1618-1707) ruled from 1658 until 1707.

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Glossary: spittoon

Large containers serving as places to spit. Associated with chewing tobacco.