A Deccani Architectural Element

Deccan, North India
17th century
Glazed ceramic
56 x 17 x 10 cm

This remarkable 17th century ceramic-terracotta architectural element from the Deccani region is both an important iconographic element from the Mughal architectural tradition and an element whose elegant, faceted shape approaches modernism. The architectural feature also reveals a new style of Indian architecture developed especially under the Mughals, from the time of Akbar onwards, due to the amalgamation of Hindu and Islamic styles.

The lotus form is rendered in a shape that allowed it to radiate outwards and away from the base, such as would typically manifest itself in plants. As the element rises towards its crown, it flares. It is also faceted so that the edges rise towards a central median ridge, again sourcing organic references from the lotus. At the top and very much in the manner of a petal, the edges curve inwards to culminate in a pointed tip. The arrangement of these elements as they encircle a dome would prove a spectacular visual experience.

The element takes its form from the lotus flower and once adorned the base of a decorative temple dome such as those seen on Gol Gumbaz in Bijapur, the mausoleum complex of Muhammad Adil Shah, Sultan of Bijapur (1627-57 CE). These foliate elements can also be seen at the top of the dome of the Taj Mahal, where an encircling sheath of numerous lotus petals are used to crown the dome, just below the great finial. These architectural elements can also be seen on decorative spires, or guldastas, at the corners of the Taj Mahal, where they each cradle a cupola with a finial.

With its vibrant chromatic, the lotus form reveals the expressive decorative aspects of temple architecture; the yellow chromatic of this element represents the colour of saffron, which conveys sanctity, is the most sacred colour, and can be found on the robes warn by Hindu monks.


Private Collection, UK.

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