Saturday, July 10, 2010

Marble Used in Taj Mahal Agra

Taj Mahal was constructed using different materials but the mausoleum itself and parts of the other structures are largely made of marble. Marble of different kinds and colors were used but white marble was the primary marble of choice. This was what made the Taj Mahal unique. Earlier Mughal structures were primarily constructed using red sandstone but the Taj Mahal, under the direction of its creator Shah Jahan, was made primarily of white marble.

Construction of the Taj Mahal was done by over 20,000 workers recruited all over India.  Sculptors, calligraphers, stonecutters, and other artisans were hired from other nations such as Syria and Persia.  Specialists were hired to work specifically on the designs and decorations of the marble.  Precious and semiprecious stones inlaid into the white marble were imported from China, Arabia, Tibet, Afghanistan, and Sri Lanka.

 The Taj Mahal Marble: The Makrana Marble, the translucent white marble of which the Taj Mahal is made, was brought primarily from Rajasthan, India, particularly in Makrana, a small town in Rajasthan where the marbles were and are still mined.  Rajasthan accounts for the majority of marble production in the country until now.  The Makrana marble is highly calcic and has several main sub-varieties.

These sub-varieties are:

• Kumhari

• Doongri

• Alberta

• Makrana White

The Taj Mahal contains several if not all of these Makrana Marble sub-varieties.

Changing Colors of the Taj Mahal: The white marble actually gives the Taj Mahal some sort of mystique as it absorbs and reflects different colors during different times of the day and night.  At dawn it somewhat looks pink as it infuses itself with colors of the sun rising.  In the later hours of the morning and at noon, it looks white as the sun shines on its white marble.  At sunset, it turns reddish or orange as the light of the sun fades.  At night, especially when the moon is full, the building seems to glow blue. 
Parts and Areas of the Taj Mahal Made of Marble
 • The Mausoleum – The entire structure of the mausoleum is made of white marble almost 76 meters in height.  Its most spectacular feature, the onion-shaped dome, is white marble that’s 35 meters high.  It sits on a 7 meter high cylindrical “drum” also made of white marble.  Four white marble minarets each more than 40 meters tall stand at the corners of the mausoleum plinth.

• The calligraphy on the Great Gate or Pishtaq is made of jasper or black marble inlaid in white marble panels.
The Charbagh or Mughal garden has a raised marble water tank called al Hawd al-Kawthar at the center of the garden with a reflecting pool.

• The Darwaza or main gateway is built primarily of red sandstone and marble.

• The Masjid or Mosque is made from red sandstone but is decorated with colored marble inlays. It also has three onion-shaped, marble-coated domes and the chhatris or domed kiosks on the four corners of the mosque have a marble coated veneer.  Its floor has outlines of 569 prayer rugs in black marble.

• The Jamat Khana or Guest House is virtually a twin of the Masjid or Mosque and also contains similar marble inlays and exterior marble decorations as the Mosque.

Decorations on the Taj Mahal Marble: The exterior as well as the interior of the Taj Mahal are lavishly decorated.  Its exterior marble is decorated with paint, stucco, stone inlays, or carvings.  Calligraphy, abstract forms, as well as vegetative motifs are also made as decorative elements.  The interior contains much more decorations than the exterior.  All the decorative elements found on the exterior can be found on the interior with the addition of precious as well as semiprecious gemstones on its surfaces.