splendour. They are not much ornamented, but are structurally good and impressive by their massive proportions.
Of the various forms which the Moslem architecture assumed, “that of Ahmedābād,” Fergusson has justly remarked, “may probably be considered as the most elegant, as it certainly is the most characteristic of all. No other form is so essentially Indian, and no one tells its tale with the same unmistakable distinctness.” Under the Mahommedan rule the Hindu architects employed introduced forms and ornaments into the works they constructed for their rulers, superior in elegance to any the latter knew or could have invented. Hence there arose a style combining all the beauty and finish of the previous native art with a certain magnificence of conception which is deficient in their own works. The elevations of the mosques have usually been studiously arranged with a view to express at once the structural arrangements, and to avoid monotony of outline by the varied elevation of each division. The central portion of the façade was raised by a storey over the roof of the wings, and to the front of this was attached the minarets, in the earliest mosques forming only small turrets over the façade, but soon after they became richly carved towers of considerable height. The upper storey formed a gallery under the central dome which was supported on pillars connected by open stone trellis work, admitting a subdued light, and providing perfect ventilation (see Plate III. fig. 15). At first the façades were pierced by arched entrances, but at a later date a screen of columns formed an open front and the minarets were removed to the corners, no longer for the mu’azzin, but simply as architectural ornaments.
The tombs were pillared pavilions of varying dimensions, the central area over the grave covered by a dome standing on twelve pillars. These pillars connected by screens of stone trellis work carved in ever-varying patterns, and round this there might be a verandah with twenty pillars in the periphery, or a double aisle with thirty-two in the outer square. And as these were irregularly spaced in order to allow the inner twelve to support the lintels of a regular octagon for the dome, the monotony of equal spacing was avoided. For further details and examples of this style, however, we must refer the reader to the published volumes of the archaeological survey of Western India relating to Ahmedābād and Gujarat.
The Adil Shāhi dynasty of Bijapur (1492-1686) was of foreign extraction and held the Shiah form of Islām, prevalent in Persia, whilst they largely employed Persian officers. This probably influenced their architecture and led to that largeness of scale and grandeur which characterized the style, differing markedly from that of the buildings of Agra and Delhi, but scarcely, if at all, inferior in originality of design and boldness of execution. There is no trace of Hindu forms or details; the style was their own, and was worked out with striking boldness and marked success. The mode in which the thrusts are provided for in the giant dome (see Plate III. fig. 14) of Mahommed Adil Shāh’s tomb (A.D. 1650), by the use of massive pendentives, hanging the weight inside, has drawn the admiration of European architects. And this dome, rising to about 175 ft. from the floor, roofs over an area 130 ft. square, or 2500 sq. ft. larger than the Pantheon at Rome, where stability is secured only by throwing a great mass of masonry on the haunches. The Jami masjid, begun by Alī Adil Shāh, 1567, but never quite completed, is one of the finest mosques in India. The central area of the mosque proper is covered by a large dome, supported in the same way as that on Mahommed Shāh’s tomb. This dome, like all the earlier ones in India, perhaps wants in outside elevation; but in the splendid Ibrāhīm Rauza and mosque we find the domes elevated above mere segments. In this latter group, erected about 1626, the domes are more elevated, and we have every detail of the structure covered with the most delicate and exquisitely elaborate carving, the windows filled with tracery, and the cornices supported by wonderfully rich brackets. In the tomb too—as if in defiance of constructional demands—the room, 40 ft. sq., is covered by a perfectly level stone roof, supported only by a cove projecting on each side from the walls.
The Indian Saracenic style of the Mogul dynasty began under the emperor Bāber, 1526; but one of the first and most characteristic examples that remain is the mosque of Sher Shāh (1541) near Delhi (see Plate I. fig. 10), and others exist at Rohtās. These earlier structures are interesting as the initial forms of the style, but are little known to Europeans. The emperor Akbar (1556-1605) built largely, and the style developed so vigorously during his reign that it would be difficult to enumerate the peculiarities of his numerous buildings. As in the Gujarāt and other styles, there is a combination of Hindu and Mahommedan features in his works which were never perfectly blended. Like their predecessors, the Pathāns, the Moguls were a tomb-building race, and those of the latter are even more splendid than those of the former, more artistic in design, and more elaborately decorated. The fine tomb of Akbar’s father, Humāyūn, and the numerous structures at Fatehpur Sikri best illustrate the style of his works, and the great mosque there is scarcely matched in elegance and architectural effect; the south gateway is well known, and from its size and structure excels any similar entrance in India. And his tomb at Sikandra, near Agra, is a unique structure of the kind and of great merit.
Under Jahāngir the Hindu features vanished from the style; his great mosque at Lahore is in the Persian style, covered with enamelled tiles; his tomb near by (1630-1640) was made a quarry of by the Sikhs from which to build their temple at Amritsar. At Agra, the tomb of Itimād-ud-daula (see Plate IV. fig. 16), completed in 1628, built entirely of white marble and covered wholly by pietra dura mosaic, is one of the most splendid examples of that class of ornamentation anywhere to be found.
The force and originality of the style gave way under Shāh Jahān (1627-1658) to a delicate elegance and refinement of detail, illustrated in the magnificent palaces erected in his reign at Agra and Delhi, the latter once the most exquisitely beautiful in India. The most splendid of the Mogul tombs, and the most renowned building in India, is the far-famed mausoleum, the Taj Mahal at Agra (see Plate IV. fig. 17), the tomb of Mumtäz Mahal, the wife of Shāh Jahān. It is surrounded by a garden, as were almost all Moslem tombs. The extreme delicacy of the Taj Mahal, the richness of its material, and the complexity of its magnificent design have been dwelt on by writers of all countries. So also of the surpassingly pure and elegant Motī Masjid in the Agra fort, all of white marble: these are among the gems of the style. The Jama Masjid at Delhi is an imposing building, and its position and architecture have been carefully considered so as to produce a pleasing effect and feeling of spacious elegance and well-balanced proportion of parts. In his works Shāh Jahān presents himself as the most magnificent builder of Indian sovereigns.
In Aurangzeb’s reign squared stone and marble gave way to brick or rubble with stucco ornament, and the decline of taste rapidly set in.
The buildings at Seringapatam and Lucknow are of still later date, and though in certain respects they are imposing, they are too often tawdry in detail.
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