Islamic Art 

Islamic law forbids human (or animal) figures in religious sites, and so the primary forms of decoration have been floral patterns, geometric shapes, and calligraphy (especially from the Qur'an). 

Here's a detail of marble carving from the Taj Mahal (the slab in the middle is over three feet long, and each of the carved flowers is 18" tall) combined with pietra dura inlay (in which chips of semiprecious stones which have been painstakingly inlaid in the marble).  This piece is one of the two slabs flanking the doorway in the picture below, but was taken on a day when the light was a little different, and hence the colors show up a little more richly. 


This is the west side doorway on the Taj Mahal, which shows several of these design elements--the floral decoration patterns on the sides and the top of the doorway, and the Quranic verses surrounding framing the whole doorway. 

This picture was taken in January 2003. 


Here's another example from another spot in the Taj, this time with geometric patterns. 

This was taken in January 2005.


Here's an example of a repeating pattern, this one of a star and diamond combination (that fools the eye to appear as if the star is in the center of a circle.  This patterned walkway is at the Taj Mahal, and circles around the base of the white marble platform on which the Taj rests. 

This was taken in January 2005


Here are two more examples (only one of them intentional).  The big picture on the right shows the star and hexagon repeating pattern, the little bit to the left of the low railing shows the four hexagons enclosing a square.  There were (and are) innumerable variations on these patterns.

This was taken in Jan. 2005.


Here are marble panels with floral designs from the Red Fort in Delhi.  The one on the right has had all of the inlaid stones picked out, but it would have probably looked something like the one on the left.

These pictures were taken in January 2005.




Here are two more examples from royal quarters in the Red Fort in Agra.  These are notable for the use of yellows and blues, which to my mind aren't seen as often as the reds and greens, as well as for the dramatic spear-shaped leaves.. 

These pictures were taken in January 2005.




This black slab of stone was the throne of Jahangir (it would have been covered with cushions when it was actually in use).  It was made in 1602 in Allahabad, where Jahangir (then Prince Salim) served as governor.  When became king in 1605 Jahangir had the throne brought to the Red Fort in Agra, where it still stands, although the palace that covered it no longer exists.  The decoration around the side (see detail below) is actually an inscription in which Prince Salim referred to himself at the "Shah" and "Sultan;" since his father Akbar was still the reigning emperor, this was an act of treason, although he managed to escape any dire consequences. 

Note how the Persian lettering is accented and decorated by the floral motifs.

This photo was taken in January 2005. 


Here's a geometric pattern using natural forms--a garden bed in the shape of a hexagon, with a six pointed star and six parallelograms on the inside.  This is outside the tomb of Itimad ud-daulah in Agra.

This picture was taken in January 1999.

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Last modified 29 March 2005