Taj, interior [showing lattice work screens]
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph of the interior of the Taj Mahal at Agra in Uttar Pradesh from the Curzon Collection, India, taken by an unknown photographer some time in the 1870s. The famously beautiful Taj Mahal was built between 1632 and 1643 by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan (ruled 1628-58) as a mausoleum for his beloved wife Arjumand Banu Begum, also known by the title Mumtaz Mahal. This is a view of the central octagonal chamber of the mausoleum, showing the intricately carved pierced marble lattice screens surrounding an inlaid marble cenotaph which marks the placement of Mumtaz Mahal’s body in a crypt below. After his death Shah Jahan was also interred in the Taj Mahal and his cenotaph lies to the west of the queen’s.
The Taj Mahal stands on a plinth at one end end of an enclosed Persian ‘char bagh’ - a garden divided symmetrically by water channels and parterres into smaller quadrants - with a grand entrance gate at the southern end. Both the mausoleum and its setting are unified by the imperial Mughal concept of the paradise garden. This theme is continued in the mausoleum interior with flower motifs inlaid in pietra dura on the cenotaph and the lattice screens. The botanical forms of the flowers contrast with the geometric patterning of the floor tiles, an echo of the geometric grids underlying the architecture of the complex as a whole.