Mughal art and architecture

Mughal art and architecture,

a characteristic Indo-Islamic-Persian style that flourished on the Indian subcontinent during the Mughal empire (1526–1857). This new style combined elements of Islamic art and architectureIslamic art and architecture,
works of art and architecture created in countries where Islam has been dominant and embodying Muslim precepts in its themes. Background

In the century after the death (A.D.
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, which had been introduced to India during the Delhi SultanateDelhi Sultanate,
refers to the various Muslim dynasties that ruled in India (1210–1526). It was founded after Muhammad of Ghor defeated Prithvi Raj and captured Delhi in 1192.
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 (1192–1398) and had produced great monuments such as the Qutb MinarQutb Minar
or Kutb Minar
, minaret near New Delhi, India. One of the earliest Muslim monuments in India, it was erected (c.1230) by Iltutmish of the Delhi Sultanate. It is c.240 ft (73 m) high, covered with relief work, and was probably built to celebrate a victory.
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, with features of Persian art and architecturePersian art and architecture,
works of art and structures produced in the region of Asia traditionally known as Persia and now called Iran. Bounded by fierce mountains and deserts, the high plateau of Iran has seen the flow of many migrations and the development of many
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. 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 Mughal emperors.


The school of Mughal painting began in 1549 when HumayunHumayun
or Homayun
, 1507–56, second Mughal emperor of India (1530–56), son and successor of Babur. In 1535, pressed by enemy incursions into Rajasthan, Humayun defeated the formidable Bahadur Shah of Gujarat.
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(1530–56) invited two Persian painters to his court, then at Kabul. They came to direct the illustration of the Amir Hamza, a fantastic narrative of which some 1,400 large paintings were executed on cloth.

Achievements under Akbar

In architecture the first great Mughal monument was the mausoleum to Humayun, erected during the reign of AkbarAkbar
, 1542–1605, Mughal emperor of India (1556–1605); son of Humayun, grandson of Babur. He succeeded to the throne under a regent, Bairam Khan, who rendered loyal service in expanding and consolidating the Mughal domains before he was summarily dismissed (1560) by
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 (1556–1605). The tomb, which was built in the 1560s, was designed by a 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 SikriFatehpur Sikri
or Fathpur Sikri
, historic city (1991 pop. 25,446), Uttar Pradesh state, N India. It was founded (1569) by the Mughal emperor Akbar to honor the Muslim saint Shaikh Salim Chishti, who had foretold the birth of Akbar's son and heir, Jahangir.
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 (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 1585 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 cent. 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.


or Jehangir
, 1569–1627, Mughal emperor of India (1605–27), son of Akbar. He continued his father's policy of expansion. The Rajput principality of Mewar (Udaipur) capitulated in 1614.
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 (1605–27) favored paintings of events from his own life rather than illustrated fiction. He encouraged portraiture and scientific studies of birds, flowers, and animals, which were collected in albums. Mansur and Manohar were among his famous painters. Jahangir, who resided at Lahore, built less than his predecessors but effected the significant change from sandstone to marble.

Shah Jahan

It was Shah JahanShah Jahan
or Shah Jehan
, 1592–1666, Mughal emperor of India (1628–58), son and successor of Jahangir. His full name was Khurram Shihab-ud-din Muhammad. He rebelled against his father in 1622 but was pardoned and succeeded to the throne in 1628.
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 (1628–58) who perfected Mughal architecture and erected at Agra its most noble and famous building, the tomb of his favorite wife, which is known as the Taj MahalTaj Mahal
, mausoleum, Agra, Uttar Pradesh state, N India, on the Yamuna River. It is considered one of the most beautiful buildings in the world and the finest example of the late style of Indian Islamic architecture.
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. A huge white marble building of simple, symmetrical plan, it is inlaid with colorful semiprecious materials and is set in an equally beautiful and symmetrical garden. The Taj Mahal continues the tradition of Mughal garden tombs, of which Humayun's tomb was the first. Shah Jahan established (1638) Delhi as his capital and built there the famous Red Fort, which contained the imperial Mughal palace. Painting also flourished during Shah Jahan's reign. Portraiture was most highly developed at his sophisticated court, and ink drawings were of high quality.

Decline under Aurangzeb

Under the orthodox AurangzebAurangzeb
or Aurangzib
, 1618–1707, Mughal emperor of India (1658–1707), son and successor of Shah Jahan. He served (1636–44, 1653–58) as viceroy of the Deccan but was constantly at odds with his father and his eldest brother, Dara Shikoh, the
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 (1659–1707) the decline of the arts began, although his ornate Pearl Mosque (1662) at Delhi is worthy of mention. During his reign the Mughal academy was dispersed. Many artists then joined Rajput courts, where their influence on Hindu painting is clearly evident.

See Indian art and architectureIndian art and architecture,
works of art and architecture produced on the Indian subcontinent, which is now divided among India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. In the Western world, notable collections of Indian art can be seen in the British Museum, in the Victoria and Albert
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See also S. C. Welch, Imperial Mughal Painting (1978); M. Beach, The Imperial Image: Paintings from the Mughal Court (1982); E. Koch, Mughal Architecture (1991).