Mughals’ Gem-studded Legacy in Agra

Agra, or Akbarabad because it was as soon as known as, brings to the thoughts of a discerning traveller the picture of Taj Mahal. Whereas there’s a lot extra to town, the marble mausoleum is all that’s wanted to face for the concept of India. As soon as inside its ethereal compound, guests jostle to search out the right nook for footage or house to take a seat within the shade of the arches because the summer time solar bears down.    

Taj Mahal, the image of artwork elevated, is a track of everlasting love. Mughals, with their innumerable monuments wrote love letters to structure, and left Agra with reminiscences that proceed to trickle in crafts which have put town on the world map. Certainly one of them is Parchin Kari or Pachhikari.

Parchin kari or parchinkari within the pillars at Taj Mahal Shutterstock

Parchin Kari is the artwork of inlaying coloured or semi-precious stones right into a stone base, typically in geometric or flower patterns. Within the partitions of Taj Mahal, the semi-precious stones glisten towards the white floor of the marble, inspiring a era of craftsmen that proceed to observe the artwork within the bylanes of Agra and Fatehpur Sikri.

Believed to have originated in historical Rome, the craft quickly began appearing within the church structure. The artwork of Pietra Dura, because it was known as in Italy, was delivered to India within the seventeenth century by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan when he commissioned Taj Mahal and introduced specialists from Persia, introducing the artwork of inlay carving and use of semi-precious stone in marble for the primary time. The Parchinkari craftsmen of Agra are believed to be descendants of the identical craftsmen who constructed the Taj Mahal. 

Semi-precious stones are laid in crevices made on the marble
Semi-precious stones are laid in crevices made on the marble Shutterstock

To make a marble inlay artefact, the stones are lower and formed with a hand-operated machine whereas the marble is being chiselled with a diamond tipped chisel. The semi-precious stones, reminiscent of lapis lazuli, turquoise, malachite, onyx, mother-of-pearl, cornelian, jasper, and so on. are inlaid on a marble floor. are then set piece by piece into the carved out marble, and held in place utilizing an adhesive (the precise recipe for which is tough to determine. It’s a commerce secret, the artisans declare). After the inlay is full, the marble is buffed out and polished. The mark of a high-quality piece of inlay work is that it’ll make it appear to be the valuable stone grew out of the marble. Usually , even a single motif reminiscent of a flower or a leaf is made of various items of stones put collectively. 

Artisans in Agra doing marble inlay work on marble
Artisans in Agra doing marble inlay work on marble Kelly R Richardson /

Even right this moment, the arched recesses of Taj Mahal’s fundamental mausoleum, in addition to the outer partitions present wonderful inlay craftsmanship.  On the marble display screen that covers the cenotaphs of Mumtaz Mahal and Shah Jahan, detailed inlay work with semi treasured stones pay homage to the simplistic opulence that marked the Mughal period. This craft of inlay work may also be admired within the forts and mosques of Delhi and Agra, reminiscent of Agra Fort and Itmad Ud Daulah, the place Persian motifs may be traced within the white marble. 

Multiple artisans work on a single inlay piece for days at a stretch
A number of artisans work on a single inlay piece for days at a stretch Dmitry Chulov /

The artwork additionally discovered its method to the Rajput empire, the place inlay work was supplemented by intricate mirror work that bedecked the royal halls and palaces in Rajasthan. Within the area of Shekhawati, many retailers replicated the opulence of the courts of their havelis by commissioning artisans to make use of small mirror items organized in ornate designs on the exteriors and interiors of their houses. 

It was later, after the British conquest of Agra, that travellers made a beeline to town, and expressed a want to accumulate memorabilia that reminded them of the historical past of town. Inlay souvenirs discovered prepared patrons and a complete trade got here to life in Agra. From the frilly and complicated pillars of Mughal structure, Parchinkari right this moment has discovered its means into our houses within the type of desk tops, coasters, chess boards and cupboards.    

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