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THE TAJ MAHAL


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Bianca
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« on: November 17, 2007, 09:06:46 am »

                                 
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« Reply #1 on: November 17, 2007, 09:12:33 am »











                                                            T A J   M A H A L


                                                          A G R A ,   I N D I A





Dr. A. Zahoor and Dr. Z. Haq

Text Source: Taj Mahal, Mausoleum of Mumtaz Mahal



Taj Mahal is regarded as one of the eight wonders of the world, and some Western historians have noted that its architectural beauty has never been surpassed.

The Taj is the most beautiful monument built by the Mughals, the Muslim rulers of India.

Taj Mahal is built entirely of white marble. Its stunning architectural beauty is beyond adequate description, particularly at dawn and sunset. The Taj seems to glow in the light of the full moon. On a foggy morning, the visitors experience the Taj as if suspended when viewed from across the Jamuna river.

Taj Mahal was built by a Muslim, Emperor Shah Jahan (died 1666 C.E.) in the memory of his dear wife and queen Mumtaz Mahal at Agra, India.

It is an "elegy in marble" or some say an expression of a "dream." Taj Mahal (meaning Crown Palace) is a Mausoleum that houses the grave of queen Mumtaz Mahal at the lower chamber. The grave of Shah Jahan was added to it later.

The queen’s real name was Arjumand Banu. In the tradition of the Mughals, important ladies of the royal family were given another name at their marriage or at some other significant event in their lives, and that new name was commonly used by the public.

Shah Jahan's real name was Shahab-ud-din, and he was known as Prince Khurram before ascending to the throne in 1628.
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« Reply #2 on: November 17, 2007, 09:14:14 am »










Taj Mahal was constructed over a period of twenty-two years, employing twenty thousand workers. It was completed in 1648 C.E. at a cost of 32 Million Rupees.

The construction documents show that its master architect was Ustad ‘Isa, the renowned Islamic architect of his time. The documents contain names of those employed and the inventory of construction materials and their origin. Expert craftsmen from Delhi, Qannauj, Lahore, and Multan were employed.

In addition, many renowned Muslim craftsmen from Baghdad, Shiraz and Bukhara worked on many specialized tasks.

The Taj stands on a raised, square platform (186 x 186 feet) with its four corners truncated, forming an unequal octagon. The architectural design uses the interlocking arabesque concept, in which each element stands on its own and perfectly integrates with the main structure. It uses the principles of self-replicating geometry and a symmetry of architectural elements.

Its central dome is fifty-eight feet in diameter and rises to a height of 213 feet. It is flanked by four subsidiary domed chambers. The four graceful, slender minarets are 162.5 feet each. The entire mausoleum (inside as well as outside) is decorated with inlaid design of flowers and calligraphy using precious gems such as agate and jasper. The main archways, chiseled with passages from the Holy Qur’an and the bold scroll work of flowery pattern, give a captivating charm to its beauty. The central domed chamber and four adjoining chambers include many walls and panels of Islamic decoration.

The mausoleum is a part of a vast complex comprising of a main gateway, an elaborate garden, a mosque (to the left), a guest house (to the right), and several other palatial buildings. The Taj is at the farthest end of this complex, with the river Jamuna behind it. The large garden contains four reflecting pools dividing it at the center. Each of these four sections is further subdivided into four sections and then each into yet another four sections. Like the Taj, the garden elements serve like Arabesque, standing on their own and also constituting the whole.


http://www.islamicity.com/Culture/Taj/default.htm
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« Reply #3 on: November 17, 2007, 09:16:48 am »

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« Reply #4 on: November 17, 2007, 09:20:56 am »



Mughal painting depicting Mumtaz Mahal.

Year: c. 17th - 18th century











Origin and inspiration





In 1631, Shah Jahan, emperor during Mughal's period of greatest prosperity, was griefstricken when his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal, died during the birth of their fourteenth child, Gauhara Begum.

The court chronicles of Shah Jahan's grief illustrates the love story traditionally held as an inspiration for Taj Mahal.

The construction of Taj Mahal begun soon after Mumtaz's death with the principal mausoleum completed in 1648. The surrounding buildings and garden were finished five years later. Visiting Agra in 1663, French traveller François Bernier wrote:



"I shall finish this letter with a description of the two wonderful mausoleums which constitute the chief

superiority of Agra over Delhi. One was erected by Jehan-guyre [sic] in honour of his father Ekbar; and

Chah-Jehan raised the other to the memory of his wife Tage Mehale, that extraordinary and celebrated

beauty, of whom her husband was so enamoured it is said that he was constant to her during life, and

at her death was so affected as nearly to follow her to the grave."

 


The Taj Mahal incorporates and expands on design traditions of Persian and earlier Mughal architecture.

Specific inspiration came from successful Timurid and Mughal buildings including the Gur-e Amir (the tomb of Timur, progenitor of the Mughal dynasty, in Samarkand), Humayun's Tomb, Itmad-Ud-Daulah's Tomb (sometimes called the Baby Taj), and Shah Jahan's own Jama Masjid in Delhi.

While earlier Mughal buildings were primarily constructed of red sandstone, Shah Jahan promoted use of white marble inlaid with semi-precious stones and buildings under his patronage reached new levels of refinement.
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« Reply #5 on: November 17, 2007, 09:32:08 am »

« Last Edit: November 17, 2007, 11:00:43 am by Bianca2001 » Report Spam   Logged

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« Reply #6 on: November 17, 2007, 09:41:16 am »








Architecture





The tomb

The focus of Taj Mahal is the white marble tomb, which stands on a square plinth consisting of a symmetrical building with an iwan, an arch-shaped doorway, topped by a large dome. Like most Mughal tombs, basic elements are Persian in origin.




Simplified diagram of the Taj Mahal floor plan.





Main iwan and side pishtaqs



The base structure is a large, multi-chambered structure. The base is essentially a cube with chamfered edges and is roughly 55 metre on each side (see floor plan, right). On the long sides, a massive pishtaq, or vaulted archway, frames the iwan with a similar arch-shaped balcony. These main arches extend above the roof of the building by an integrated facade. On either side of main arch, additional pishtaqs are stacked above and below. This motif of stacked pishtaqs is replicated on chamfered corner areas as well. The design is completely symmetrical on all sides of the building. Four minarets, one at each corner of the plinth, facing the chamfered corners, frame the tomb. The main chamber houses the cenotaphs of Mumtaz Mahal and Shah Jahan with their graves located on lower level.


 


Base, dome, and minaret



The marble dome that surmounts the tomb is its most spectacular feature. Its height is about the same size as the base of the building, about 35 metre and is accentuated as it sits on a cylindrical "drum" of about 7 metre high. Because of its shape, the dome is often called an onion dome (also called an amrud or guava dome). The top is decorated with a lotus design, which serves to accentuate its height as well. The shape of the dome is emphasised by four smaller domed chattris (kiosks) placed at its corners. The chattri domes replicate the onion shape of main dome. Their columned bases open through the roof of the tomb and provide light to the interior. Tall decorative spires (guldastas) extend from edges of base walls,and provide visual emphasis to the height of the dome. The lotus motif is repeated on both the chattris and guldastas. The dome and chattris are topped by a gilded finial, which mixes traditional Persian and Hindu decorative elements.



 

 Finial



The main dome is crowned by a gilded spire or finial. The finial, made of gold until the early 1800s, is now made of bronze. The finial provides a clear example of integration of traditional Persian and Hindu decorative elements. The finial is topped by a moon, a typical Islamic motif, whose horns point heavenward. Because of its placement on the main spire, the horns of moon and finial point combine to create a trident shape, reminiscent of traditional Hindu symbols of Shiva.

At the corners of plinth stand minarets, the four large towers each more than 40 metre tall. The minarets display Taj Mahal's penchant for symmetry. These towers are designed as working minarets, a traditional element of mosques as a place for a muezzin to call the Islamic faithful to prayer. Each minaret is effectively divided into three equal parts by two working balconies that ring the tower. At the top of the tower is a final balcony surmounted by a chattri that mirrors the design of those on the tomb. The minaret chattris share the same finishing touches, a lotus design topped by a gilded finial. Each of the minarets were constructed slightly outside of the plinth, so that in the event of collapse, a typical occurrence with many such tall constructions of the period, the material from the towers would tend to fall away from the tomb.
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« Reply #7 on: November 17, 2007, 09:52:10 am »







Exterior decoration







Calligraphy on large pishtaq





Herringbone


The exterior decorations of Taj Mahal are among the finest to be found in Mughal architecture. As the surface area changes, a large pishtaq has more area than a smaller, the decorations are refined proportionally. The decorative elements were created by applying paint or stucco, or by stone inlays or by carvings. In line with the Islamic prohibition of the use of anthropomorphic forms, the decorative elements can be grouped into either calligraphy, abstract forms or vegetative motifs.

The calligraphy found in Taj Mahal are of florid thuluth script, created by Persian calligrapher, Amanat Khan, who signed several of the panels. The calligraphy is made by jasper inlaid in white marble panels and the work found on the marble cenotaphs in the tomb is extremely detailed and delicate. Higher panels are written slightly larger to reduce skewing effect from viewing below. Throughout the complex, passages from the Qur'an are used as decorative elements. Recent scholarship suggests that Amanat Khan chose the passages as well.

The texts refer to themes of judgment and include: Surah 91 - The Sun, Surah 112 - The Purity of Faith, Surah 89 - Daybreak, Surah 93 - Morning Light, Surah 95 - The Fig, Surah 94 - The Solace, Surah 36 - Ya Sin, Surah 81 - The Folding Up, Surah 82 - The Cleaving Asunder, Surah 84 - The Rending Asunder, Surah 98 - The Evidence, Surah 67 - Dominion, Surah 48 - Victory, Surah 77 - Those Sent Forth and Surah 39 - The Crowds. As one enters through Taj Mahal Gate, the calligraphy reads "O Soul, thou art at rest. Return to the Lord at peace with Him, and He at peace with you."





Incised painting





Plant motifs



Abstract forms are used especially in plinth, minarets, gateway, mosque, jawab, and to a lesser extent, on the surfaces of the tomb. The domes and vaults of sandstone buildings are worked with tracery of incised painting to create elaborate geometric forms. On most joining areas, herringbone inlays define the space between adjoining elements. White inlays are used in sandstone buildings and dark or black inlays on the white marbles. Mortared areas of marble buildings have been stained or painted dark and thus creating a geometric patterns of considerable complexity. Floors and walkways use contrasting tiles or blocks in tessellation patterns.

 



Spandrel detail



Vegetative motifs are found at the lower walls of the tomb. They are white marble dados that have been sculpted with realistic bas relief depictions of flowers and vines. The marble has been polished to emphasise exquisite detailing of these carvings. The dado frames and archway spandrels have been decorated with pietra dura inlays of highly stylised, almost geometric vines, flowers and fruits. The inlay stones are yellow marble, jasper and jade, leveled and polished to the surface of the walls.
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« Reply #8 on: November 17, 2007, 10:06:20 am »







                                                            Interior decoration







 Jali screen surrounding the cenotaphs





Detail of Jali





Tombs of Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal





Cenotaphs, interior of Taj Mahal


The interior chamber of Taj Mahal steps far beyond traditional decorative elements. Here the inlay work is not pietra dura, but lapidary of precious and semiprecious gemstones.

The inner chamber is an octagon with the design allowing for entry from each face, though, only the south garden-facing door is used.

The interior walls are about 25 metre high and topped by a "false" interior dome decorated with a sun motif. Eight pishtaq arches define the space at ground level. As with the exterior, each lower pishtaq is crowned by a second pishtaq about midway up the wall.

The four central upper arches form balconies or viewing areas and each balcony's exterior window has an intricate screen or jali cut from marble. In addition to the light from the balcony screens, light enters through roof openings covered by chattris at the corners.

Each chamber wall has been highly decorated with dado bas relief, intricate lapidary inlay and refined calligraphy panels, reflecting in miniature detail of the design elements seen throughout the exterior of the complex.

The octagonal marble screen or jali which borders the cenotaphs is made from eight marble panels. Each panel has been carved through with intricate piercework. The remaining surfaces have been inlaid with semiprecious stones in extremely delicate detail, forming twining vines, fruits and flowers.

Muslim tradition forbids elaborate decoration of graves and hence Mumtaz and Shah Jahan are laid in a relatively plain crypt beneath the inner chamber with faces turned right and towards Mecca.

Mumtaz Mahal's cenotaph is placed at the precise center of the inner chamber with a rectangular marble base of 1.5 metre by 2.5 metre. Both the base and casket are elaborately inlaid with precious and semiprecious gems. Calligraphic inscriptions on the casket identify and praise Mumtaz. On the lid of the casket is a raised rectangular lozenge meant to suggest a writing tablet. Shah Jahan's cenotaph is beside Mumtaz's to the western side. It is the only visible asymmetric element in the entire complex.

His cenotaph is bigger than his wife's, but reflects the same elements: A larger casket on slightly taller base, again decorated with astonishing precision with lapidary and calligraphy that identifies Shah Jahan. On the lid of this casket is a traditional sculpture of a small pen box. The pen box and writing tablet were traditional Mughal funerary icons decorating men's and women's caskets respectively.

Ninety Nine Names of God are to be found as calligraphic inscriptions on the sides of the actual tomb of Mumtaz Mahal, in the crypt including "O Noble, O Magnificent, O Majestic, O Unique, O Eternal, O Glorious... ".

The tomb of Shah Jahan bears a calligraphic inscription that reads; "He traveled from this world to the banquet-hall of Eternity on the night of the twenty-sixth of the month of Rajab, in the year 1076 Hijri."





                                    Details of lapidary craftsmanship are shown in the gallery







Arch of Jali





 Delicate piercework





 Inlay detail





 Inlay detail
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« Reply #9 on: November 17, 2007, 10:23:31 am »










                                                              The garden
 




The complex is set around a large 300 metre square charbagh, a Mughal garden.

The garden uses raised pathways that divide each of the four quarters of the garden into 16 sunken parterres or flowerbeds.

A raised marble water tank at the center of the garden, halfway between the tomb and gateway, with a reflecting pool on North-South axis reflect the image of Taj Mahal.

Elsewhere, the garden is laid out with avenues of trees and fountains. The raised marble water tank is called al Hawd al-Kawthar, in reference to "Tank of Abundance" promised to Muhammad.

The charbagh garden, a design inspired by Persian gardens, was introduced to India by the first Mughal emperor Babur. It symbolizes four flowing rivers of Paradise and reflects the gardens of Paradise and derived from the Persian paridaeza, meaning 'a walled garden'.

In mystic Islamic texts of Mughal period, paradise is described as an ideal garden of abundance with four rivers source from a central spring or mountain and separate the garden into north, west, south and east.


 


Walkways beside reflecting pool



Most Mughal charbaghs are rectangular with a tomb or pavilion in the center.

The Taj Mahal garden is unusual as the main element, the tomb, is rather located at the end of the garden.

With the discovery of Mahtab Bagh or "Moonlight Garden" on the other side of the Yamuna, Archaeological Survey of India interprets that the Yamuna itself was incorporated into the garden's design and was meant to be seen as one of the rivers of Paradise.

The similarity in layout of the garden and its architectural features such as fountains, brick and marble walkways, and geometric brick-lined flowerbeds with Shalimar's suggest that the garden may have been designed by the same engineer, Ali Mardan.

Early accounts of the garden describe its profusion of vegetation, including roses, daffodils, and fruit trees in abundance.  As the Mughal Empire declined, the tending of the garden declined as well.

When the British took over the management of Taj Mahal, they changed the landscaping to resemble that of lawns of London.
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« Reply #10 on: November 17, 2007, 10:32:10 am »










                                                              Outlying buildings
 






Gateway to the Taj Mahal



The Taj Mahal complex is bounded by crenellated red sandstone walls on three sides with river-facing side open. Outside these walls are several additional mausoleums, including those of Shah Jahan's other wives, and a larger tomb for Mumtaz's favorite servant. These structures, composed primarily of red sandstone, are typical of the smaller Mughal tombs of the era. The garden-facing inner sides of the wall is fronted by columned arcades, a feature typical of Hindu temples later incorporated into Mughal mosques. The wall is interspersed with domed kiosks (chattris), and small buildings that may have been viewing areas or watch towers like the Music House, which is now used as a museum.

The main gateway (darwaza) is a monumental structure built primarily of marble and is reminiscent of Mughal architecture of earlier emperors. Its archways mirror the shape of tomb's archways, and its pishtaq arches incorporate calligraphy that decorates the tomb. It utilises bas-relief and pietra dura (inlaid) decorations with floral motifs. The vaulted ceilings and walls have elaborate geometric designs, like those found in the other sandstone buildings of the complex.

 





Taj Mahal mosque or masjid



At the far end of the complex, there are two grand red sandstone buildings that are open to the sides of the tomb. Their backs parallel western and eastern walls and these two buildings are precise mirror images of each other. The western building is a mosque and its opposite is the jawab (answer) whose primary purpose was architectural balance and may have been used as a guesthouse. The distinctions between these two buildings include the lack of mihrab, a niche in a mosque's wall facing Mecca, in the jawab and that the floors of jawab have a geometric design, while the mosque floor was laid with outlines of 569 prayer rugs in black marble. The mosque's basic design is similar to others built by Shah Jahan, particularly to his Masjid-i-Jahan Numa, or Jama Masjid of Delhi, a long hall surmounted by three domes. The Mughal mosques of this period divide the sanctuary hall into three areas with a main sanctuary and slightly smaller sanctuaries on either side. At Taj Mahal, each sanctuary opens onto an enormous vaulting dome. These outlying buildings were completed in 1643.
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« Reply #11 on: November 17, 2007, 10:41:29 am »











                                                           Construction







TajPlanMughalGardens.jpg
 
Ground layout of the Taj Mahal



The Taj Mahal was built on a parcel of land to the south of the walled city of Agra.

Shah Jahan presented Maharajah Jai Singh with a large palace in the centre of Agra in exchange for the land.
An area of roughly three acres was excavated, filled with dirt to reduce seepage and leveled at 50 meters
above riverbank.

 


View from the Agra Fort.



In the tomb area, wells were dug and filled with stone and rubble as the footings of the tomb. Instead of lashed bamboo, workmen constructed a colossal brick scaffold that mirrored the tomb. The scaffold was so enormous that foremen estimated it would take years to dismantle. According to the legend, Shah Jahan decreed that anyone could keep the bricks taken from the scaffold and thus was dismantled by peasants overnight. A fifteen kilometer tamped-earth ramp was built to transport marble and materials to the construction site. Teams of twenty or thirty oxen were strained to pull blocks on specially constructed wagons. 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 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.

Since the complex was built in stages, discrepancies exist in completion dates due to differing opinions on "completion". For example, the mausoleum itself was essentially complete by 1643, but work continued on the rest of the complex. Estimates of the cost of the construction of Taj Mahal vary due to difficulties in estimating construction costs across time. The total cost of construction has been estimated to be about 32 million Rupees.

The Taj Mahal was constructed using materials from all over India and Asia. Over 1,000 elephants were used to transport building materials during the construction. The translucent white marble was brought from 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.

 



An Artist's impression of A Bird's View of the Taj Mahal, from the Smithsonian Institute



A labour force of twenty thousand workers was recruited across northern India. Sculptors from Bukhara, calligraphers from Syria and Persia, inlayers from southern India, stonecutters from Baluchistan, a specialist in building turrets, another who carved only marble flowers were part of the thirty-seven men who formed the creative unit. Some of the builders involved in construction of Taj Mahal are:



The main dome was designed by Ismail Afandi (a.ka. Ismail Khan), of the Ottoman Empire and was considered as a premier designer of hemispheres and domes.

Ustad Isa of Persia (Iran) and Isa Muhammad Effendi of Persia (Iran), trained by Koca Mimar Sinan Agha of Ottoman Empire, are frequently credited with a key role in the architectural design, but there is little evidence to support this claim.

'Puru' from Benarus, Persia (Iran) has been mentioned as a supervising architect.

Qazim Khan, a native of Lahore, cast the solid gold finial.

Chiranjilal, a lapidary from Delhi, was chosen as the chief sculptor and mosaicist.

Amanat Khan from Shiraz, Iran was the chief calligrapher. His name has been inscribed at the end of the inscription on the Taj Mahal gateway.
 
Muhammad Hanif was a supervisor of masons and Mir Abdul Karim and Mukkarimat Khan of Shiraz, Iran (Persia) handled finances and management of daily production.
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« Reply #12 on: November 17, 2007, 10:51:47 am »









                                                                History





Soon after Taj Mahal's completion, Shah Jahan was deposed and put under house arrest at nearby Agra Fort by his son Aurangzeb.

Legend has it that he spent the remainder of his days gazing at the Taj Mahal. Upon Shah Jahan's death, Aurangzeb buried him in the Taj Mahal next to his wife.

By late 19th century, parts of Taj Mahal had fallen badly into disrepair.

 
During the time of Indian rebellion of 1857, Taj Mahal faced defacement by British soldiers and government officials, who chiseled out precious stones and lapis lazuli from its walls.

At the end of 19th century British viceroy Lord Curzon ordered a massive restoration project, completed in 1908. He also commissioned the large lamp in the interior chamber, modeled on one in a Cairo mosque. It was during this time the garden was remodeled with British looking lawns that are visible today.

In 1942, the government erected a scaffolding in anticipation of an air attack by German Luftwaffe and later by Japanese Air Force. During the India-Pakistan wars of 1965 and 1971, scaffoldings were erected to mislead bomber pilots. Its recent threats came from environmental pollution on the banks of Yamuna River including acid rain due to Mathura oil refinery, which was opposed by Supreme Court of India directives. In 1983, Taj Mahal was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taj_Mahal
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« Reply #13 on: November 17, 2007, 11:09:04 am »

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« Reply #14 on: November 17, 2007, 11:11:53 am »

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