Art & Culture

Mughal Art and Architecture

Claire Miles
May 27, 2023

From 1526 until its fall in 1857, the Mughal State ruled over South Asia and the Indian subcontinent. It was an early yet contemporary Islamic empire. A protracted military effort that installed a new government and administration gave rise to the empire. Babur, a military leader from Andijan, founded the Mughal Empire in 1526 after defeating Ibrahim Lodhi, the Sultan of Delhi, and going on the offensive against the Afghans, Rajputs, and later, the plains of upper India.

The Mughal Empire gained so much power and wealth that it made a considerable contribution to the arts; it drew heavily on Islamic and Indo-Persian content, context, symbolism, aesthetics, and story to inform its works. Multiple emperors contributed to the prosperity of culture and art, which to them reflected sophistication and generosity, as Mughal art evolved during their reigns.

Mughal monarchs used art as a means of expressing their elegance and generosity. Large-scale projects were commissioned for the creation of illustrated volumes representing significant historical events and settings as well as information on areas of governmental and judicial life. Later, art would develop into solitary depictions and portraits of affluent and quiet lifestyles, priceless items, and the peace and beauty of nature.

Copyright has expired on this artwork. From my own archives, digitally restored.

Getty Images / Moment / mikroman6

Along with its art, the Mughal Empire is renowned for its architecture. A clear indication of Mughal architecture is its intricate decoration and liberal application of geometry and symmetry. In addition, marble is occasionally utilized in place of the red sandstone, which is used for much of the building. In addition, the architecture makes extensive use of arches and occasionally has curved, supple constructions like those built by Shah Jahan.

The aesthetics, which are influenced by Persian, Indian, and Islamic influences, are what define Mughal art the most. Geometric forms, intricate decoration, vivid colors, and even gold are frequently used in Mughal art.