Inlay art on delicate precious stone began in the workshops of Florence in Italy around the end of the 16th century. This was known as PIETRA DURA.
Of all the Mughal Emperors, Shah Jahan was the greatest patron of architecture in India. It is in his buildings that one feels most compelled to make the connection between Mughal art and pietra dura. The Taj Mahal, the cenotaphs of the Emperor and his wife, the main floor and the surrounding marble railings bear very close resemblances to the pietra dura form. "Inlay Art" is one of the most attractive art that done from marble. Same type of that adorns the Taj Mahal and other Mughal monuments.
It is a closely protected traditional art and only a few expert exponents are available today. The delicate process involves cutting and engraving marble shapes manually. To start with, a predefined pattern e. Floral design or geometrical design is engraved on the marble slab. Small pieces of marble of different shades are cut delicately to fit in these grooves precisely.
These small pieces are then slipped in the grooves. There are many varieties of colored stone available for utilization in marble inlay work: malachite, carnelian, jasper, mother of pearl, abalone shell, lapis lazuli, agate, coral, turquoise and tiger eye to name just a few.The grooves are filled with their precisely corresponding shapes of colored stone and secured in place with a white putty made from oil, and wax. Once the design is completely dry, the piece is polished with a mixture of sand, water and emery paper to give a shiny smooth finish. Apart from marble, many other materials can also be used.
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