DISCOVER THE TAJ (2)
Close your eyes and think of the Taj Mahal. Quick - what did you see? White marble? White dome, white minarets...
And yet, the Taj Mahal is a composition in white and red, the sandstone playing off the marble, the earthy tethering the ethereal, sang-i-surkh embracing sang-i-marmar, the mausoleum in luminous white marble, the flanking buildings in red sandstone.
Is there a symbolism to this colour scheme? You bet!
This colour dualism is a feature of imperial Mughal architecture, which derived from a practice adopted by the Delhi sultans who, in turn, had borrowed from an ancient Indian concept laid down in the shastras. The Vishnudharmottara Purana recommended white stone for buildings built for Brahmins and red ones for the ksjatriyas. White: priestly; Red: warrior.
“By using white and red in their buildings the Mughals identified themselves with the two highest levels of the Indian social system. Until Aurangzeb, the emperors were concerned to define themselves as rulers in Hindu terms as well.” - Ebba Koch
Next time you visit Taj, feast on the Darwaza-i-Rauza, meander through the Mihman Khana, stroll through the garden pavilions - soak in the entire Taj Mahal, not just the white mausoleum. Time you ‘discovered’ the building which has become a byword for beauty!
|Photo by Steve McCurry|