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Cenotaph of Shah Jahan, Taj Mahal, Agra 1794

Cenotaph of Shah Jahan, Taj Mahal, Agra 1794

Artist: Latif (fl..1820s)

Medium: Watercolour

Date: 1820

Shelfmark: Add.Or.1794

Item number: 1794

Genre: Drawing

Watercolour of the cenotaph of the Emperor Shah Jahan in the Taj Mahal, Agra, by Latif, part of the Bax Collection, c. 1820-1822. Inscribed on the front in English: 'Grave of the Emperor Sha Jehan at the Taj Mhal'; in Persian characters: 'Qabr i Shahjahan badshah 'amal i Latif' (The grave of the Emperor Shah Jahan. 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 Shah Jahan in the central chamber of the mausoleum, decorated with peitra dura. His wife Arjumand Banu Begam is also buried here.

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