Details of the pietra dura work in the Taj Mahal, Agra
Taj Mahal, one of the seventh wonder of the world is an architectural marvel, the pietra dura work in the design of Taj Mahal is one of the finest and the details of the same are as below:
The old architecture in Delhi , Agra and Jaipur is quite unique and attracts a lot of tourists to this popular travel circuit . Taj Mahal which is the main highlight of golden triangle holiday packages from Delhi, has an intricate design and follows pietra dura style .Inlays of soft stone, mainly of marble designs carved and laid in a sandstone set-tin2, had been known in India from the 15th century. As in art and architecture generally a major development took place in the region of the Mughal emperor Jahangir in the first three decades of the 17th century. This was the use of semi-precious stones of varied colours on a marble background.
Semi-precious stone inlay as a craft is not identical to soft stone inlay, but the traditional Indian skill of gem-cutting was available to the wealthiest patrons of the day, the Mughal emperors. It was thus a logical development for them to take to the representation in pietra dura of the art motifs favored by the reigning monarch. Jahangir was a passionate lover of flowers, and his artists responded nobly to their patron's taste. Their flower paintings have been acclaimed by naturalists as well as by art historians. Though Jahangir's palaces in Agra Fort were demolished by Shahjahan to make room for his own, his tomb near Lahore, built by his empress Nurjahan, contains lavish displays in pietra dura of the emperor's favourite motifs of goblets and flowers. The craft attained full flowering, however, under Shahjahan. The motifs the latter favoured remained largely Jahangiri, but the range and expertise then attained have never since been excelled. In Shah-jahan's marble palaces in Agra Fort and the Taj Mahal. pietra dura is used both for decoration and to moderate the dazzle of the white marble expanse.
The taste for pietra dura spread to the Mughal nobility as well. They could hardly compete with their emperor, but some of them found a means of satisfying their taste when objects decorated with inlay became available in India from Italy. Tavernier, the French jeweller, records that he made a present to Nawab Jafar Khan, the emperor Aurangzeb's uncle, on 12 September 1665, of "a board, with nineteen pieces to make a cabinet, the whole of precious stones of diverse colours representing all kinds of flowers and birds. The work has been done in Florence and cost 2,150 livres". There had been a contemporary development of pietra dura in Florence under the Medicis, but in wealth and resources of skilled artisans these cannot be viewed as rivals of the Mughal emperor. The scale on which the craft was practiced in Lahore and Agra rules out any possibility of derivation from the relatively small development in Florence. By the time the Indian craftsmen were lavishing displays of flowers and other designs on the screen enclosing Mumtaz Mahal's tomb in the 1640s, they had already attained a level of perfection unequalled in Medici Florence.
Shahjahan himself adopted a solution seemingly favoured by his nobles while he was building the Delhi fort a decade later that of buying ready-made art objects from Italian vendors. The niche behind the jarokha throne is decorated with plaques in the Florentine style, including one of Orpheus. When it is remembered that about half a century earlier, Jahangir's artists were able to reproduce a religious picture presented to him by Sir Thomas Roe so accurately that he could not distinguish one from the other, one may expect that Shahjahan's craftsmen were capable of depicting in pietra dura a foreign motif which appealed to their emperor.
The art continues to be practiced in Agra, but too much lesser degree than under the Mughal emperors. However, it is still possible to see fine work produced in the city at the U.P. Government Emporium.
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