Explain in Brief on Mughal Empire Art and Architecture

Mughal Empire Art and Architecture - Mughal culture and refinement are best reflected in the stone. More than any other form of art, architecture depends upon rich patrons. Most of these early Mughal buildings use arches only sparingly, relying instead on post-and-lintel construction. They are built of red sandstone or white marble. Mughal architecture reached its zenith during the reign of the emperor Shah Jahān (1628–58), its crowning achievement being the magnificent Taj Mahal.

As the might of the Mughal Empire spread and as the great Mughal emperors grew richer, more and more outstanding buildings were constructed in which Muslim motifs were to be found alongside local Indian traditions. Mughal art and architecture, a characteristic Indo-Islamic-Persian style that flourished on the Indian subcontinent during the Mughal rule in India (1526–1857). This new style combined elements of Islamic art and architecture, which had been introduced to India during the Delhi Sultanate (1192–1398) and had produced great monuments such as the Qutb Minar, with features of Persian art and architecture. Mughal monuments are found chiefly in N India, but there are also many remains in Pakistan. This article discusses these distinctive forms of art and architecture as they developed under a succession of a Mughal emperor.

Akbar's reign struck a new role in Indo-Muslim architecture. Among his buildings, palaces, and fort complex at Fatehpur Sikri, the Jodha Bai Palace, Diwan-i-Am, Diwan-i-Khas, Jami Masjid, Panch Mahal, and Buland Darwaja—are most impressive.

Akbar took a keen interest in the work of construction both at Agra and Fatehpur Sikri. In these buildings, Persian and Central Asian influences are conspicuous in the glazed blue tiles used for decoration on the walls or for tiling the roofs. In the construction of Buland Darwaja, the Iranian influence was conspicuous.

Jahangir was not a prolific builder. But his one great work, the tomb of his father at Sikandra, is a fascinating structure, constructed somewhat in the manner of a Buddhist Vihara. The rule of the Mughal Dynasty from the 16th to 18th century extensively displays art forms and architectural styles that developed vigorously around that time, portraying the amalgamation of styles of the Islamic world and India. The pattern and structures are the subjects of study to date.

Shah Jahan's reign marked the heyday of rich splendor in architecture. During Shah Jahan's reign, fine white marble encrusted with semi-precious and sometimes even precious stones became the main decorative material used in architecture, especially in Delhi and Agra. The Diwan-i-Am, Diwan-i-Khas and Jami Masjid at Delhi and the Moti Masjid at Agra are among his stateliest constructions. But Shah Jahan is famous as the builder of the Taj Mahal, that 'miracle of miracles' which is justly regarded as a jewel of the builder's art. He built it at Agra in the memory of his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal.

The Mughal architectural traditions influenced the architecture of other parts of the country. Mughal painting, Mughal also spelled Mogul, style of painting, confined mainly to book illustration and the production of individual miniatures, that evolved in India during the reigns of the Mughal emperors (16th–18th century). The main characteristic features of the Mughal architecture are the bulbous domes, the slender minarets with cupolas at the four corners, large halls, massive vaulted gateways, and delicate ornamentation.

In architecture, the first great Mughal monument was the mausoleum to Humayun, erected during the reign of Akbar (1556–1605). The tomb, which was built in the 1560s, was designed by Persian architect Mirak Mirza Ghiyas. Set in a garden at Delhi, it has an intricate ground plan with central octagonal chambers, joined by an archway with an elegant facade and surmounted by cupolas, kiosks, and pinnacles. At the same time, Akbar was building his fortress-palace in his capital, Agra. Native red sandstone was inlaid with white marble, and all the surfaces were ornately carved on the outside and sumptuously painted inside.

Akbar went on to build the entire city of Fatehpur Sikri (City of Victory) in which extensive use was made of the low arches and bulbous domes that characterize the Mughal style. Built-in 1571 the choice of the site of Sikri reflected Akbar's gratitude to a Muslim saint at Sikri for the birth of his son. Courtiers soon followed suit and built homes surrounding the palace and mosque. The new city became the capital of the empire, but in 158 it was abandoned. Under Akbar, Persian artists directed an academy of local painters. The drawings, costumes, and ornamentation of illuminated manuscripts by the end of the 16th century illustrate the influence of Indian tastes and manners in the bright coloring and detailed landscape backgrounds. Modeling and perspective also began to be adapted from Western pictures. Basawan, Lal, and Daswanth were Akbar's most famous painters.

Development of Mughal Paintings:
Patronizing their Persian painters, the Mughals took a keen interest in paintings that reflected a
collaboration of Indo-Persian synthesis. Originating from the time of Turkish-Afghan Delhi
Sultanate, paintings prospered under the rule, of Akbar, Jahangir, and Shah Jahan, the Mughal
Rulers. The art of Mughal painting flourished with time and developed into realistic
  • Paintings of the Mughal Era depict a theme from fables of Persian literature and Hindu Mythology gradually changed to realistic subjects like portraits of the royalty, events, and details of the court life, wildlife and hunting scenes, and battle illustrations.
  • The abundant use of bright colors highlights the glory of the era and fine drawing with calligraphic text descriptions on the border enhances the appeal of the artwork.
  • Humayun’s exposure to Persian miniature painting compelled him to get along with accomplished Persian artists, Sayyid Ali and Abdus Samad. Khamsa of Nizami, his own commission has 36 illuminated pages, with different styles of various artists.
  • Akbar inherited Humayun’s library and court painters; he expanded the art by paying close personal attention to its output. Among the major art pieces of the time were the Tutinama ("Tales of a Parrot"), The Gulistan, The Khamsa of Nizami, Darab Nama, and Hindu epics of Ramayana and Mahabharata. Akbar hired many painters to develop and spread the Mughal style painting in the years 1570 AD to 1585 AD.
  • Jahangir’s artistic inclination developed the Mughal Paintings further and oil paints began being used. He encouraged the single-point perspective of European artists and paintings became focused on real-life events. The Jahangirnama, his autobiography had several paintings.
  • During Shah Jahan’s reign, the Mughal paintings developed but they were rigid with themes of lovers in intimate positions, musical parties, etc.

Akbar’s greatest architectural achievement was the construction of Fatehpur Sikri, his capital city near Agra for trade and Jain pilgrimages. The construction of the walled city was started in 1569 and completed in 1574. It contained some of the most beautiful buildings – both religious and secular which testify to the Emperor’s aim of achieving social, political, and religious integration. The main religious buildings were the huge Jama Masjid and the small Tomb of Salim Chisti.

Buland Darwaza, also known as the Gate of Magnificence, was built by Akbar in 1576 to commemorate his victory over Gujarat and the Deccan. It is 40 meters high and 50 meters from the ground. The total height of the structure is about 54 meters from ground level. The Haramsara, the royal seraglio in Fatehpur Sikri was an area where the royal women lived. The opening to the Haramsara is from the Khwabgah side separated by a row of cloisters. 

According to Abul Fazl, in Ain-i-Akbari, the inside of the Harem was guarded by senior and active women, outside the enclosure the eunuchs were placed, and at a proper distance, there were faithful Rajput guards. Jodha Bai's Palace is the largest palace in the Fatehpur Sikri seraglio, connected to the minor Dharamsala quarters. The main entrance is double-storied, projecting out of the facade to create a kind of porch leading into a recessed entrance with a balcony. Inside there is a quadrangle surrounded by rooms. The columns of rooms are ornamented with a variety of Hindu sculptural motifs.
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