Universal Islamic Monument Yemeni agate inlays the Taj Mahal [Archives:2007/1016/Culture]

January 15 2007

Adel A. Al-Haddad
[email protected]
For Yemen Times

Yemeni agate, the most famous in the world, was used to decorate the Taj Mahal, the world's most architecturally beautiful tomb. The Taj Mahal is unique in its design and its construction materials. English poet Sir Edwin Arnold describes the Taj Mahal as “Not a piece of architecture, as other buildings are, but the proud passions of an emperor's love wrought in living stones.”

When India's Mughal emperor Shah Jahan built the Taj Mahal, he carefully chose and collected the best construction materials available throughout the known world. He visualized a marble building decorated with precious and semi-precious stone inlays like delicately handcrafted jewelry: Marble in purest white from Makrana in Rajasthan, yellow marble and rocks from the banks of the Narmada River, black marble from Charkoh and red sandstone from Sikri.

For the intricate pisetra dura, the finest gems were collected: crystal and jade from China, lapis lazuli and sapphires from Sri Lanka, jasper from Punjab, carnelian from Baghdad and turquoise from Tibet. Yemen sent agates, corals came from Arabia, garnets from Bundelkhand, onyx and amethyst from Persia. Mumtaz Mahal's final resting place was ornamented like a queen's jewelry box.

Mumtaz Mahal's tomb

Though lovers be lost, love shall not;

And death shall have no dominion.

)Dylan Thomas

The white splendor tomb of Mahal was built in memory of Emperor Shah Jahan's favorite wife, Arjumand Banu Begum, better known as Mumtaz Mahal (“Chosen of the Palace”). This wonderful monument expresses Jahan's eternal love for his wife and his great sorrow at her death. “The building could not have been of this earth, for it is evident the design was given him by heaven.” – a quote composed by Shah Jahan and inscribed on the Taj Mahal.

Meaning “Crown Palace,” the Taj Mahal is an exquisite mausoleum and one of the world's greatest wonders, as well as a tribute to a beautiful queen and a great love. The Taj Mahal's architectural beauty alludes to several valuable meanings so that one day of sightseeing feels like a minute standing before such charming and intricate designs.

The hues across the Taj Mahal change constantly throughout the day and seasons. Sunrise and morning bring on a pinkish glow, while in the evening, the view turns milky-white and golden when the moon shines upon its precious stone inlays as the white marble reflects the moonbeams.

Men hailing from Baghdad, Shiraz, Delhi, Samarkand and Turkey crafted the marble, India's finest and quarried at Makrana. Their work, the architectural genius behind the design and Shah Jahan's passion are a tribute to his queen, companion and ultimate love. One of the Seven Wonders of the World, the Taj Mahal stands through time as the definitive declaration of love.