Moghul Dynasty1526-1856 • In 1526, the Moghul dynasty established itself in what is now northern India and modern Pakistan. They unified the many small states held by different kings. • The arts flourished in the first 150 years of their rule. A combination of Persian, Islamic, and Hindu influences combined with strong financial support for artisans. • We’ll focus on three areas: miniature paintings, architecture, and the Taj Mahal. As the map shows, India was broken up into different states at the time, only one of which was run by the Moghul Emperors. The Moghuls were largely Muslim, unlike southern India, which was Hindu.
Miniature Paintings • The goal of painting in this era was to show an object as realistically as possible--remember, this was centuries before the camera was invented. • Prior to then, much Indian art was very symbolic, with most objects standing for something else--for example, a flower might symbolize a particular goddess. In Moghul art, the objects are exactly what they appear to be. • What do you see in this picture?
“Tiger Hunt” • This picture--which is only 2 x 3 inches in real life (about the size of a playing card)--shows a maharaja on a tiger hunt. • Note how the different types of trees are painted in their own colors and shapes. • Note how the sky has been carefully painted to reflect both the sun and the movement of the clouds. What weapon is being used? What does the artist want you to think about the king? Is he powerful? Brave?
Court Paintings • These pictures show the extreme detail in these works. Each piece of cloth, plant or chair is exquisitely unique. • Note how the more powerful courtiers and royalty are shown higher up in the picture to show their status. • Each picture measures approximately 3 x 4 inches. What do you think of the color? Do you like these paintings? Why?
Agra Fort • Really a walled city, Agra was the capital of the empire for over 200 years. It contained the state mint and treasury. • Akbar, pictured here, covered the building with red sandstone over a brick core. It took 1.5 million workers over 8 years to complete the 500 original buildings. This painting shows a falcon, a traditional bird of prey. Why would the artist have put it in this picture? What else tells you the person has high status?
Sheesh Mahal • Originally the Royal Dressing Room, the builders used tiny mirror-like glass mosaics. The mosaics shimmer and reflect their own light. • Built on a river, the fort has rings of living space, with the innermost space reserved for the king and his court. The most private areas are the most ornate. The fort was built before modern engines or machines. How do you think the artisans got their materials?
Delhi Gate • Each of the four gates to the complex is entered after passing over a drawbridge. Once through the initial entrance, there is a 90 degree turn to actually enter the facility. • It was built that way as a defensive measure. At that time, elephants were used to crash gates during war and this design prevented made it impossible to use the animals.
A Love Letter in Stone • Shah Jahan ordered the building of the Taj as a burial site for his beloved wife, Mumtaz Mahal. She died while giving birth to their 14th child! • Both Shah Jahan and Mumtaz are actually buried in the building, though not in the sarcophogi that are on public view. The top picture is of Mumtaz, while the bottom is of Shah Jahan. The Taj Mahal is now in the city of Agra, India and is right across the river from the Red Fort we just looked at.
A World Treasure • Perfectly symmetrical, a base supports a minaret at each corner. The main chamber holds the two false sarcophagi. • The reflecting pool on this side is echoed by the river on the other side. • The building has been declared a World Heritage Site and is one of the most recognizable buildings in the world. Does this feel like a place of solemnity and thought?
Mosaics galore • The building is faced in white marble and inlaid with 28 different types of stone--including valuable precious gemstones. • Carving, pierced screens, and calligraphy cover virtually every surface, though all with an eye to natural beauty. Over 20,000 artisans worked to create the effect. It’s said that it has been in constant repair since being built.
Calligraphy • What might look like scribbling is actually Arabic, the written language of the Moghul empire. Shah Jahan picked out lines from the Qur-an, the holy book of Islam. • The “writing” is in black jasper, a hard stone, inlaid into the white marble. • The writing gets larger as it gets higher so it remains readable.
Carving, too! • This kind of carving is called “bas relief”. It gives the feel of a three dimensional object on a two dimensional surface. • Because Islam didn’t allow the representation of people, the ornamentation through out the building is of plants, flowers, and decorative patterns. What do you think of the carving? Think of the work that went into each step of this small detail of the building.
Mosque • On either side of the Taj Mahal, and rarely shown in its pictures, are two large red sandstone buildings. • One is a Mosque, the other a receiving building and exactly mirror each other and are open to the Taj Mahal, which lies between. • The smaller onion domes and black inlays are more sober than in their famous neighbor. What do you think of the domes? Do you like how this looks?
Shah Jahan • After the completion of the Taj Mahal, Shah Jahan was overthrown by his son and locked up in the Agra Fort. • He spent the rest of his life a prisoner in an apartment at the Fort. • His room had a perfect view of the Taj Mahal across the river. • These pictures show the Taj Mahal being built. • Moghul art and architecture beautifully showcase the value the society placed on the arts.