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Cenotaph of Arjumand Banu Begum, Taj Mahal, Agra

Cenotaph of Arjumand Banu Begum, Taj Mahal, Agra

Artist: Latif (fl..1820s)

Medium: Watercolour

Date: 1820

Shelfmark: Add.Or.1793

Item number: 1793

Genre: Drawing

Watercolour drawing of the cenotaph of Arjumand Banu Begam in the Taj Mahal, Agra, by Latif, part of the Bax Collection, c. 1820-22. Inscribed on the front in English: 'Tomb of the Empress wife of Shah' Jehan' in the Taj Mhal'; in Persian characters: 'Qabr i Mumtaz Mahall 'amal i Latif' (The grave of Mumtaz Mahal. The work of Latif).

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.

This view shows the cenotaph of Arjumand Banu Begam in the central chamber of the tomb and decorated with peitra dura. Shah Jahan is also buried here.

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