History

 

Dr. Gesink's Image Gallery Page 9

MUGHAL ARCHITECTURE 

 

Tomb of Humayun, 1570 (Wikimedia Commons)

Built for the second Mughal emperor, Humayun, this Delhi tomb complex (which houses the graves of several Mughal emperors) set the bar for subsequent Mughal architecture.  This was the first Indian imperial tomb complex to use a garden setting, an idea that was imported from the Safavid Empire.  It was also the first to use red sandstone on such a massive scale.  Design characteristics that would become typical of Mughal architecture include careful attention to symmetry, the use of red sandstone with a polished marble dome and trim, ogee arches, and the incorporation of Hindu architectural features such as chhatris ("umbrellas") on minarets and pavilions and the elevation of the sacred space by means of a square platform.

                     

 

Jami Mosque, facade (Aga Khan MIT Visual Archive).  This mosque, built by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jehan in 1648, is the largest and arguably the most beautiful in India.  Note again the characteristic features of Mughal architecture.

 
Jami Mosque, dome and minarets (Aga Khan MIT Visual Archive). This is another view of the mosque complex depicted above.
 
Taj Mahal, 1634 (www.indiagov.org).  Shah Jehan built this memorial for his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal, who died bearing their 14th child.  It took 20,000 workers some 20 years to complete.  The Taj Mahal epitomizes the Mughal emphasis on symmetry.   It is also, like the tomb of Humayun, set in a garden.
 
Decorative tombs of Shah Jehan and Mumtaz Mahal, inside the Taj Mahal (Incore).  The actual tombs are beneath the ground; these are just for show.   Note the spectacular inlay of semi-precious stones in the marble.  This style of inlay work (pietra dura) is characteristic of Mughal decorative art. 
 
Moti Masjid (Pearl Mosque) of Agra: Emperor Awrangzeb's delicate marble mosques illustrate his attempts to purify Mughal religious practices of non-Muslim influences. There are at least four Mughal mosques referred to as "pearl" mosques because they are made of polished marble.  One, the Nagini Mosque, is inside the Agra fort complex and is often cited as an influence on Awrangzeb's architectural preferences. Awrangzeb's first Moti Masjid  (below, right) was built inside the Agra fort in 1659.  It is entirely marble--even the paving stones of the courtyard.  In form, this mosque shares the hybrid architectual styles of Awrangzeb's predecessors (see interior arches, below).
 
 
 
Awrangzeb's second Moti Masjid was a tiny, elegant mosque inside the Delhi fort.  The Delhi fort is dominated by Shah Jahan's enormous sandstone Jami Mosque (above), which serves as the main mosque for the denizens of the palace.  Awrangzeb preferred a more private location, and decided that a "graceful place of worship should be erected to enable him at various times of the day or night to pay his devotions without the trouble of a retinue or long journey."  Thus the smaller Moti Masjid (left) was constructed in 1662 near Awrangzeb's private bedchambers (Brown, Indian Architecture, 121).  It too is entirely marble, but its design was more deliberately Persianate than earlier Mughal mosques.  Even in his architecture, Awrangzeb preferred Islam purified from indigenous cultural influences.
 


Copyright 1999 Indira Falk Gesink

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