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Mughal Architecture and Culture

Mughal Architecture and Culture

Mughal period can be called a second classical age following the Gupta age in northern India. The culture developed during the period was of a truly national culture.

Architecture

Babur:

  • He was very fond of gardens. He built Arambagh at Agra and Kabulibagh in Panipat.
  • On his orders, Abdul Baqi built a mosque at Ayodhya.

Humayun:

  • Constructed the din-i-Panah at Delhi. He also built mosques at Agra and Fatehabad.

Akbar:

  • Humayun’s’ tomb built at Delhi towards the beginning of Akbar’s reign with use of red sandstone with a massive dome of marble, may be considered a precursor of the Taj.
  • The double dome was another feature of Humayun’s tomb wherein a bigger dome was built with a smaller one inside.
  • Akbar built the forts at Agra and also at Allahabad. These forts were also built in red sandstone. In 1572, Akbar commenced a palace-cum-fort complex at Fatehpur Sikhri, 36 km from Agra, which he completed in eight years.              Mughal Architecture and Culture
  • It included many buildings in the style of Gujarat and Bengal. The Panch Mahal in Fathepur Sikri was based on Gujarat style of architectures where pillars were built to support flat roofs.
  • He also built a magnificent mosque at Fatehpur Sikri and the gateway to it was called the Bulund Darwaza or the Lofty gate, built to commemorate Akbar’s victory in Gujarat.
  • Other buildings at Fatehpur Sikri were Diwan-i-Aam, Diwan-i-Khas, palace of Jodha Bai, Ibadat Khana etc. Akbar’s architecture represents a fusion of Indian and Persian styles.

Jehangir:

  • He was more interested in paintings than architecture. At Sikandara near Agra, he completed the construction of the tomb of his father Akbar who himself had started it’s construction.
  • Jehangir’s reign also saw the construction of the tomb of Itmad-ud-Daula at Agra by Nur Jahan which was the first building constructed entirely of marbles.              Mughal Architecture and Culture
  • Jehangir also laid out many gardens such as Shalimar Bagh and Nishad Bagh in Kashmir.

Shah Jahan:

  • The practice of putting up buildings entirely of marble and decorating the walls with floral designs made of semi-precious stones started towards the end of Jehangir’s reign.
  • This method of decoration, called pieta Jura, became even more popular under Shah Jahan who used it on a large scale in the Taj Mahal which was built in memory of his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal (Arjumand Bano Begum).
  • The chief architect of the Taj was Ustad Isa Khan who designed it in white marble. There is a massive dome mounted on a main building and there are four slender minarets linking the platform to the main building.
  • Shah Jahan also built the Moti Masjid in the Agra fort entirely in marble and built the Jama Masjid at Delhi in red sandstone. A lofty gate, tall slender minarets, and a series of domes are feature of the Jama Masjid.

Aurangzeb:

  • No important building could be constructed in his times as he was busy in wars.

PAINTINGS :

The Mughal emperors made distinctive contribution to paintings.

Babur: was interested in paintings.

Humayun:

  • While he was in exile in Iran, he brought with him two famous painters Mir Sayyid Ali of Tabriz and Khwaja Abdus Samad of Shiraz under whom Persian influence was predominant.

Akbar:

  • He founded a separate department of painting under Khwaja Abdus Samad. According to Abul Fazl, there were a total of 1000 painters of which 17 were famous.              Mughal Architecture and Culture
  • From the beginning both muslims and Hindus joined in the work, many of them from lowly castes. Jaswant and Dasawant were two of the famous painters of Akbar’s court.
  • They illustrated Persian books of fables, the Persian text of the Mahabharata, the historical work Akbarnama and other Indian themes, scenes and landscapes thus freeing the Mughal paintings from Persian influence.
  • The somewhat flat effect of the Persian style began to be replaced by the roundedness of the Indian brush, giving the pictures a three-dimensional effect.
  • Under Akbar, European painting was introduced at the court by a Portuguese priest. Under their influence, the principles of foreshortening, whereby near and distant people and things could be placed in perspective was quickly adopted. Under Akbar, miniature paintings were introduced by Farooq Beg and wall paintings made progress under Dasawant.

Jehangir:

  • Mughal paintings reached their zenith under Jehangir who had much love for painting and claimed that he could distinguish the work of each artist in a painting. Under him, book illustrations were almost given up, only the book Tuzuk-i-Jehangiri was illustrated.            Mughal Architecture and Culture
  • It was fashionable for the faces, bodies and feet of the people in a single painting to be painted by different artists.
  • Under Jehangir, special progress was made in portrait painting and paintings based on nature with animals and birth. The British traveller Thomas Roe writes that Jehangir had good knowledge of paintings.

Shah Jahan:

  • was more interested in architecture than paintings. But, he continued patronage to painters. Under him portraits of the royal family were drawn.
  • Though paintings under Shah Jahan reached technical perfection, they were devoid of real beauty and emotions and the paintings became static and stereotyped.

Aurangzeb:

  • His neglect of painting let to a dispersal of the artists to different places of the country which helped in the development of painting in the state of Rajasthan and the Punjab hills.
  • The Rajasthan style of painting combined the themes of earlier traditions of western India or Jain school of painting with Mughal forms and styles.    Mughal Architecture and Culture
  • Thus, in addition to hunting and court scenes, it had paintings on mythological themes such as the dalliance of Krishna with Radha, or the Barah-masa, that is the seasons. The Pahari school continued these traditions.

Medieval History

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