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Mughal Art and Architecture

Mughal Art and Architecture

Art means the expression of skill whereas architecture means the art of building generally structures. Both expressions represent the aesthetic side of human beings. There is a gradual evolution in the aesthetic sense of humans with respect to the evolution of science and technology. Let’s have a glance over the mughal art and architecture and how it evolved. The Delhi Sultans had built their empire under the shadow of a disaster and in the result of their forceful assertion and plundering nature no evidence of their love for art and architecture is found throughout India besides Qutub Minar. The mughals had enough time to rule and they were able to deploy the resources of India in order to build such buildings and monuments which would help glorifying their rule over India. The mughal art and architecture was an amalgamation of Indian, Persian, Central Asian and European skills and designs.

 

The first mughal emperor Babur kept a poor opinion about the people and art of India but he did built many buildings in Agra, Sikri, Biyana and Dholpur and he also built mosques at Panipat and Sambhal. Humayun was on a very shaky throne but he was able to build a mosque at Fatehbad and a palace at Delhi called Deen-Panah which lacked stability and durability. Akbar took a great interest in art and architecture as he was also the great patron of artisans and artists.  His palaces are mainly found at Fatepur and Sikri. Tomb of Humayun was also built during the reign of Akbar under the supervision of his stepmother Haji Begum who designed it in a totally Persian style. There is a tomb in the center being enclosed by the garden. The use of marble has greatly enhanced its beauty. Akbar also respected the Sufism so he built many buildings in the honor of Salim Chishti. The other famous buildings are Jama masjid and the Buland Darwaza. Buland Darwaza, constructed in 1602 to commemorate the Deccan conquests of Akbar is the highest gateway in India. The Jama masjid completed in 1571 represents the glory of Fatehpur. Some other buildings which were designed and constructed under the supervision of Akbar were the forts of Agra and Lahore, two gateways known as the Delhi Gate or the Elephant Gate and the Amarsingh Gate were also built. The red stone was used to build about 5000 buildings within the enclosure of the gateways. Some other buildings and forts constructed under the supervision of the emperor were the fort of Attock, mosque at Merta and his own tomb at Sikandra. The use of red stone represented a Hindu tradition of construction in the buildings.

 

Akbar was very interested in the painting as it was an important element of royal court. He patronized the painting by creating a separate department under the control of Khawaja Abdus Samad who was a Persian artist. In the school of painting, painters from different parts of world were welcomed. The colours were selected very keenly and the details were observed. During the reign of Akbar, the Chingiznamah, the Ramayana, Kalyadaman, Zafarnamah, Naldaman and Razmanamah were being illustrated. After Akbar, Jahangir also showed a greater interest in painting. Farrukh beg, Mohammad Nadir and Mohammad Murad were the distinguished painters at the court of Jahangir. The flowers, birds and natural objects were preferred to be worth painting and the Mughal School of miniature was also developed. The pigments mostly used were blue, golden, red, green and silvery white.

 

Shah Jehan is famous for his great love for architecture. Taj Mahal, Diwan-i-Aam, Diwan-i-Khas and Sheesh Mahal in the fort of Delhi, Agra and Lahore, the Jamia Masjid Delhi, the Moti Masjid, Jahangir’s tomb and Shalimar Gardens are few of the important buildings constructed under Shah Jehan.  The mosques are very simple from inside but quite magnificent from outside with large gateways and the main prayer hall with the Quranic inscriptions. The Diwan-i-Aam, Diwan-i-Khas and the Moti Masjid are the examples of highly beautified constructive designs; the amalgamation of different artistic works and the balanced proportion of different elements like stones and marble make them worth watching.  The peak of beautified construction is observed on the Taj Mahal which represents the emperor’s love for his wife Arjumand Bano in 1630. It took about twenty two years for its construction with an expenditure of about four billion rupees by 22, ooo laborers. It represents Persian influence with a European touch. Its white marble was imported from Makrana and red stone from China.  After Shah Jehan the trend of construction greatly declined.

 

As regards the painting, Shah Jehan did not encourage it much. His palace however is decorated beautifully by the painters of that time. Dara Shikoh also had great interest in the painting but he became the prey to his brother for the acquisition of the throne. Aurangzeb also did not encourage the painting. He diminished the paintings present at the palace of Akbar. However it can be seen that art and architecture were the salient features of the Mughal Empire.

 

It is worth mentioning that mughals were the great builders. The Persian influence was the dominating feature of the art as the rulers themselves were from those lands. It is not wrong to say that art had seen a revolution under the mughals who wanted to transform stone into an emblem of their glory. The forts and the monuments represent the personal ideals of the rulers who wanted the upcoming generations to remember them and glorify their rule. So the existing mughal buildings represent a past generation and its ideals.

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