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Cenotaph of Arjumand Banu Begum, Taj Mahal., Agra

Cenotaph of Arjumand Banu Begum, Taj Mahal., Agra

Artist: Anonymous

Medium: Watercolour

Date: 1817

Shelfmark: Add.Or.1757

Item number: 1757

Length: 47.7

Width: 69.7

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Drawing

Watercolour of the Empress Arjumand Banu Begam's cenotaph in the Taj Mahal, Agra, by an anonymous artist working in the Agra style, c. 1817.

The Taj Mahal was built by the Emperor Shah Jahan (r.1628-58) for his favourite wife Arjumand Banu Begum upon her death in 1631. Constructed of India’s finest marble, quarried at Makrana near Jodhpur, it took 12 years to build involving 20,000 craftsmen from all over Asia. The tomb and accompanying buildings are organised around a garden divided into four parts by raised walkways with water channels at their centres. The pietra dura was done with thousands of imported precious and semi-precious stones arranged in floral designs that embellish the exterior and interior of the building. The domed white marble mausoleum stands on a plinth with tapering minarets on each corner. Its harmonious proportions and exquisite craftsmanship have made the Taj Mahal one of the wonders of the world. Arjumand Banu Begum's cenotaph is located in the central chamber of the mausoleum and is covered in pietra dura work, as can be seen in this drawing. The top of her cenotaph is decorated with calligraphy.

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