Art and Architecture of Delhi Sultanate

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  • Topic: Islamic architecture, Taj Mahal, Shah Jahan
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  • Published : February 2, 2013
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ART AND ARCHITECTURE OF DELHI SULTANATE
The Sultanate period brought to India new styles of art and architecture which were soon absorbed into the existing set up. A number of factors were responsible for events to move in such a direction. The existing Indian styles and the new ideas had many common features, which allowed them to adapt to one another. For instance both the temple and mosque had large open courtyards. Also many temples were converted in mosques by the foreign invaders, and this created a blend of Indian as well as foreign styles. The Sultanate introduced two new architectural ideas, the dome and the pointed arch. The dome was an important decorative structure in Islamic buildings, and soon was implemented in other structures as well. The pointed or true arch that was introduced during this period, was completely different from the type of arches that were being constructed within the country earlier. The earlier Indian style of creating arches was to first put up two pillars. The pillars would then be cut at intervals accommodate 'plug in' projections. There would be a sequence of squares that would gradually decrease in size creating an arch. The new artisans introduced the true arch. This was achieved by making the middle stone a key stone and to have the other stones distribute the load of on the two pillars. The concept of the dome was also introduced. This was gradually perfected and one of the most stunning examples is the dome on top of the Taj Mahal. The dome initially started out as a conical dome as we see in the Mehrauli region in Delhi and eventually developed the ultimate bulbous onion shape on the Taj Mahal. The dome effect was achieved by an interesting method. A square base was first constructed and then at varying angles more of these squares were added to the base. This eventually create a rough dome effect. This was plastered to make it completely round and then the squares were removed. The use of concrete was also on the increase, opening up new avenues. Concrete enabled builders to build larger structures covering more area. Local Indian craftsmen were soon trained in Persian styles of art which they used to decorate the structures. They also implemented some of their own ideas, and soon traditional Hindu motifs like the lotus found their way into Islamic buildings. There were other instances as well, for instance although the Islamic buildings used the more advanced pointed arch, they also included for decoration purposes a variant of the Hindu arch. The early dynasties of the Sultanate period, namely the Slave dynasty and the Khilji dynasty created some exquisitely designed structures, with fine works of art adorning them. During the Tughlaq period however, the mood was less decorative, and more simple and austere. This is attributed partly to the religious ideas of the Tughlaqs as well as the depleted state finances. The Sayyids and Lodis who succeeded the Tughlaqs returned to the more lavish styles with the Lodis introducing the new concept of the double dome. They also introduced a new type of decoration, most probably borrowed from Persia, enamelled tiles, which went very well with grey sandstone. Decorative work in terra-cotta continued to be popular. It was a time of great experimentation, with most artist and engineers in India, keen to learn from the deluge of new ideas that were entering the country. They retained their indigenous techniques but also absorbed some of the new thought that was coming their way. Two unique sets of ideas were able to successfully combine to form a coherent whole. TAJ MAHAL

The Taj Mahal ([pic] /ˈtɑːdʒ/ or /ˈtɑːʒ məˈhɑːl/;[1] Hindi: ताज महल, from Persian/Urdu: تاج محل "crown of palaces", pronounced [ˈt̪aːdʒ mɛˈɦɛl]; also "the Taj"[2]) is a white marble mausoleum located in Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India. It was built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal. The Taj Mahal is widely recognized as "the jewel of Muslim...
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