Mughal Stonework

May 24th, 2008

Akbar Palace

The highlight of visiting the abandoned Mughal capitol Fatehpur Sikri near Delhi was the chance to look closely at the extraordinary stonework produced by 16th century artisans. The city is built entirely of a red sandstone (well, technically a coarse siltstone, a name my students would insist upon) of two varieties. The first is a flagstone which splits into horizontal planes perfect for walkways, walls and roofs (see above).

The second is a stone with no preferential zones of weakness, so it can be carved in spectacular detail as shown by the roof support pictured above.


To provide cooling breezes through the buildings, the craftsmen also cut elaborate latticework through the stone with precise symmetry repeated over and over in a single slab. It is difficult to imagine producing such detail in stone today.

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