Parchinkari - The art of inlaying semi-precious stones in marble.
Inlay on one of the 4 doors of The Taj Mahal.
Detail of the inlay
The European travellers brought pietra dura works as presents for Shah Jahan. The Mughal emperor was impressed with the technique and immediately incorporated it in his architectural endeavours. He refined and perfected the technique over several years which came to be known as Parchinkari in India. The art became more intricate, symmetrical and distinct from pietra dura. The inlaid stone pieces were made smaller and precious stones were introduced in the masterpieces.
The Taj Mahal is the shining example of the perfection to which parchinkari was taken during Shah Jahan's rule.
Water color drawing of details of screen around Emperor Shah Jahan's cenotaph
Intricate inlay on the cenotaph of Emperor Shah Jahan kept at the centre of the Taj
The Taj Mahal is the shining example of the perfection to which parchinkari was taken during Shah Jahan's rule. The most beautiful work is seen on the cenotaphs of Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal in the interior tomb chamber, where the same flowers are repeated with exactly the same number of stones in each one. This beautiful and precious art has been passed down since the Mughal times through generations of parchinkars and is still alive in Agra after more than 350 years.