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Gigantic embroidery in stone at base of Kutb Minar, Moslem Pillar of Victory, Delhi

Gigantic embroidery in stone at base of Kutb Minar, Moslem Pillar of Victory, Delhi

Photographer: Ricalton, James

Medium: Photographic print

Date: 1903

Shelfmark: Photo 181/(83)

Item number: 83

Length: 8.9

Width: 17.8

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Photograph

Stereoscopic photograph of the base of the Qutb Minar at Delhi, taken by James Ricalton in c. 1903, from The Underwood Travel Library: Stereoscopic Views of India. The Qutb Minar is a tower of victory, part of a complex containing some of the earliest structures of Muslim rule in India. It was begun by Qutb-ud-Din Aibak (r.1206-1210), the first Sultan of Delhi and founder of the Slave Dynasty, and continued by Shams-ud-Din Iltutmish (r.1211-1236). This tower accompanies the Quwwat-ul-Islam mosque and was probably inspired by the style of Afghan minarets. It is 72.3m (238 ft) high, and rises in five tapering fluted storeys interrupted by projecting balconies. The chief material used is red sandstone. The two highest storeys are mainly marble, they were rebuilt by Firuz Shah Tughluq (r.1351-1388) in 1368 when a cupola was added, later damaged in an earthquake and removed. The four balconies are interspersed with broad carved bands of interwoven calligraphy and floral motifs; three bands on the first storey and two on the second and third storeys. This is a detailed view of the base of the minar showing some of the inscription bands. This is one of a series of 100 photographs designed to be viewed through a special binocular viewer, producing a 3D effect, which were sold together with a book of descriptions and a map. Stereoscopic cameras, those with two lenses and the ability to take two photographs at the same time, were introduced in the mid 19th century and revolutionised photography. They cut down exposure time and thus allowed for some movement in the image without blurring as subjects were not required to sit for long periods to produce sharp results.

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