Mughal Inspiration: Art Forms Increasing Culture

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Mughal Inspiration: Art Forms Increasing Culture

After the Mughals arrived in India, a great cultural growth occurred in many different forms of art, such as music, visual art, architecture, and literature. India was already a country with many different cultural aspects, but the Mughals, of Turkish-Mongolian descent, expanded the realm of art even further. This Mughal art and architecture was considered an Indo-Islamic-Persian style, which combined different aspects of Islamic and Persian art with indigenous Indian art. This style thrived during the Mughal Empire from approximately 1526-1857 A.D. The monarchs of the Mughal dynasty encouraged art in areas such as literature and painting and created many great buildings and gardens that are still a great display of beauty today. The presence of the Mughals in India added to Indians’ cultural life through the beautiful and rich forms of art such as architecture, painting, literature, and music that they introduced to the subcontinent. First, the Mughals made many great contributions in architecture. The mausoleums, mosques, palaces, and cities that the Mughals created were very rich and intricate. In the words of A.L Basham, “The Mughal period was one of great splendour, and has left its mark on India in the form of many lovely buildings, wherein Islamic and Hindu motifs often blended in perfect unity.” The most noticeable contribution that the Mughals made in art was architecture, because they left so many great mausoleums, mosques, and palaces. Perhaps the most famous piece of architecture even in the world today is the Taj Mahal, which is a mausoleum that was built by the Mughal monarch Shah Jahan to entomb his third wife’s remains after she died in childbirth. Construction on this beautiful structure began in around 1632 and was completed in the year 1653. This structure was built mainly of marble, and it includes many tranquil gardens and canals. It is an Islamic structure, but it still was a “symbol of beauty and excellence for all Indians regardless of religious or sectarian affiliation.” Although this structure was built for an Islamic woman and was influenced by the Islamic style, people from all backgrounds and religions appreciated it for its beauty and symbol of eternal love. The first three Mughal emperors, Babur, Hamayun, and Akbar, each used the Iranian Timurid style of combining marble and red sandstone in the structures that they built. For example, Akbar, the third monarch of the Mughal Empire, built a new capital city called Fatehpur Sikri, which sat on a rocky plateau and overlooked a lake. A royal mosque with a palace was set to the west with the residential town area residing below. The city was gated with a grand entrance made of the red sandstone, and a lofty flight of steps were climbed to reach the city. There was also a marble tomb for Salim Chishti inside the city. Chishti was a Sufi mystic who told Akbar that he would eventually have three sons. The tomb was made of marble, and consisted of geometric shapes and inscribed verses from the Quran. The design of the inscribed verses was considered an abstract form of Islam. This shows the influence that Islam had on the tomb, and therefore on the rest of the citizens who saw this mausoleum in their city every day. Other Mughal monarchs made their mark on Indian architecture as well. Jahangir and his wife Nur Jahan built tombs for Akbar, his father, at Sikandra and for her father at Agra, respectively. These tombs both incorporated the marble theme that the Mughal emperors before them had started. Overall, the Mughals devoted most of their greatest efforts to burial places for their loved ones. They also developed many fortress-like palaces with intricate details. For example, many of the rooms and corridors in these palaces were shielded from the outside by jalis, or latticework windows. They contained “mirror rooms”, wall alcoves, small waterways to provide air conditioning,...
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