The Taj Mahal
The Taj Mahal consists of white marble inlayed with semi-precious stones. The exterior of the Taj Mahal is very stylized and decorative. The surface area changes the decorations are refined proportionally. The decorative elements were created by applying paint, stucco, stone inlays, or carvings. Because of the Islamic prohibition of the decor or human form, the decorative elements can be grouped into calligraphy, abstract forms or vegetative motifs.
The calligraphy that is found on the exterior of the Taj Mahal was created by a calligrapher named Abd ul-Haq, in 1609. Near the lines from the Qur’an at the base of the interior dome is the inscription, “Written by the insignificant being, Amanat Khan Shirazi. ” Abstract forms are used throughout, especially in the plinth, minarets, gateway, mosque, jawab and on the surfaces of the tomb. The domes and vaults of the sandstone buildings are worked with tracery of incised painting to create elaborate geometric forms.
In the interior of the Taj Mahal, each chamber wall has been highly decorated with dado low relief, intricate lapidary inlay and refined calligraphy panels, reflecting in miniature detail the design elements seen throughout the exterior of the complex. The octagonal marble screen (jail) which borders the cenotaphs is made from eight marble panels which have been carved through with intricate pierce work. The remaining surfaces have been inlaid in delicate detail with semi-precious stones forming twining vines, fruits and flowers.
On the tomb in the Taj Mahal, both the base and casket are elaborately inlaid with precious and semiprecious gems. Calligraphic inscriptions on the casket identify and praise Mumtaz. The tomb is the center piece of the Taj Mahal. The large, white marble structure stands on a square plinth and consists of a symmetrical building with an iwan (an arch-shaped doorway) topped by a large dome and finial. The tomb’s elements are Persian in origin.
The base structure is essentially a large, multi-chambered cube with chamfered corners, forming an unequal octagon that is approximately 180 feet on each of the four long sides. On each of these sides, a huge pishtaq (vaulted arch way) frames the iwan with two similarly shaped, arched balconies stacked on either side. The marble dome that surmounts the tomb is the most spectacular feature. Its height of around 115 feet is about the same as the length of the base, and is accentuated as it sits on a cylindrical “drum” which is roughly 23 feet high.
Because of its shape, the dome is often called an onion dome or amrud (guava dome). The top is decorated with a lotus design, which also serves to accentuate its height. The tomb is the representation of the house of the queen in Paradise, and its setting was based on the palace gardens of the great nobles that lined both sides of the river at Agra India. The Taj Mahal was built on a piece of land to the south of the city of Agra. An elaborate post-and-beam pulley system was used to raise the blocks into desired position.
Water was drawn from the river by a series of purs, an animal-powered rope and bucket mechanism, into a large storage tank and raised to a large distribution tank. It was passed into three subsidiary tanks, from which it was piped to the complex. The plinth and tomb took roughly 12 years to complete. The remaining parts of the complex took an additional 10 years and were completed in order of minarets, mosque and jawab, and gateway. The Taj Mahal was constructed using materials from all over India and Asia and over 1,000 elephants were used to transport building materials.
The translucent white marble was brought from Makrana, Rajasthan, the jasper from Punjab, jade and crystal from China. The turquoise was from Tibet and the Lapis lazuli from Afghanistan, while the sapphire came from Sri Lanka and the carnelian from Arabia. In all, twenty eight types of precious and semi-precious stones were inlaid into the white marble. A labor force of twenty thousand workers was recruited across northern India. Sculptors from Bukhara, calligraphers from Syria and Persia, inlayers from southern India, and stonecutters from Baluchistan.
By the late 19th century, parts of the buildings had fallen badly into disrepair. During the time of the Indian rebellion of 1857, the Taj Mahal was defaced by British soldiers and government officials, who chiseled out precious stones and lapis lazuli from its walls. There are many myths that have been told about the Taj Mahal. According to one of the myths, the construction is sinking and it is known that in spite of all the precautions, cracks were discovered in it just 4 years after its completion and that it was tilting towards the riverside.
According to another myth a number of items such as diamonds, a gold leaf which covered the part of the dome, a pearl blanket etc that were originally a part of the Taj were stolen. It is also told that Shah Jahan got the hands of his sculptors and architects cut off so that they would never be able to build a monument as magnificent and beautiful as the Taj again and he even got their eyes pulled out so that they would never be able to witness anything bigger and more beautiful than the monument that they had built during their lifetime.
The Taj Mahal has been described as “a dream in marble, designed by fairies and finished by jewelers”. The closer one examines it, the more one realizes its charm. The reflection of the whole structure in the still waters of the Yamuna, on a moonlit night is said to be an unforgettable sight unseen anywhere else in the world. The Taj Mahal is a very beautiful and historic building that will hopefully be preserved throughout generations to come. Works Cited http://www. islamicity. com/culture/taj/default. htm http://www. tajmahal. com/ http://www. tajmahal. org. uk/ http://www. pbs. org/treasuresoftheworld/a_nav/taj_nav/main_tajfrm. html