Islamic Architecture

by Ms. Smita Dalvi

My comments

My class notes

Summary from the Program

Islamic Architecture in India dates back to over a thousand years: there are mosques more than 1000 years old on the Malabar coast. It was the political dominance of Northern India, 15th century onwards which introduced the typical Islamic building elements of Persian and Turkish origins hitherto unknown to India.

The five dynasties of Delhi and the Mughals who succeeded them built a number of truly grand monuments that reflect a massive and masculine character and the might and wealth of the rulers.

The presentation will highlight the general architectural principles and vocabulary of Indo-Islamic Architecture, within which a wide range of regional variations exist. For example, mosques in Ahmedabad, Bengal and Kerala present very different styles. These differences shall be briefly dealt with.

The presentation shall further articulate influences that shaped these buildings including foreign influences, regional influences, local traditions in the building trade, climatic adaptation and the synthesis of Hindu and Islamic idioms.

My Notes

- Islam started 6th Century AD, by prophet Mohammed in Saudi Arabia - moved to India almost immediately
- espouses "Oneness with God," who is omnipresent - The Koran/Quran
- no human or animal forms used in architecture (Catherine:  too like idolatry)
- Mughals were Islamic - Akbar and Shah Jahan perhaps built most
- painted arches are common
- Islam brought the arch and dome to India, previously unknown
- some (many?) arched doors also have a beam and lintel seen only in India
- "basement" of the mosque is almost always a marketplace (around the base)
- most mosques have a large courtyard
	- a few are partly covered - several courtyards
	- rarely, they're fully covered
- no hard and fast rules about mosque structure (except maybe "no idolatry") - free choice of structure, colour
- squinches used a lot (look it up - transition from square room to a round roof)
- chatris are used - open space, columns supporting roof 
	- good on summer evenings!
	- also decorative, on roof
- tombs are another big example of Islamic architecture
- some square, so octagonal, mostly domed
- the Taj Mahal is the "grand finale" of Mughal tombs
- Palaces!
- often, mostly open to sky, gardens, courtyards
- you can cover/enclose spaces with cloth
- separate men's and women's quarters
- water is a common element - ponds, or water running through palaces
- unbelievable ornamentation!! gorgeous repeating tiles
	- calligraphic
	- flora
	- geometric
- her geometric example is from Persia
- no focus on particular elements
- it "dematerializes" the surface
- inlay of stones - semi/precious on light (ie. marble)
	- best example Taj Mahal
- calligraphy usually Quranic or poetry
- inlay - some European influence, traded both ways
- "jali" - pierced stone screen - geometric openings (mostly open, about 90% open) 
by giles