Maharajas' Express Blog

Pietra Dura: The Art of Marble Inlaying With Semi-Precious Gemstones

India is known for its varied culture, arts and crafts in the entire world. Maharajas (kings) in India at different periods, had always shared a good affinity with artists from around a varied landscapes. This can be seen as the most salient reason as to why many arts had their roots in India and got boost to a tremendous magnitude, during the Mughal Empire in particular. Mughal era was a mile-stone in the development of architecture, crafts and arts in India.

Pietro Dura or Parchin Kari is a term in Marble-inlay technique that involves cutting and fitting of semi-precious polished gemstones to create different images, flower petals, animals or any other shapes that artist desired it to look like..

During the period of Shah Jahan, Pietra Dura technique got refined and became more sophisticated and well-proportioned to be called Parchin Kari in India. This Indian form of Pietro Dura is slightly different from that of the original with embedded stones made smaller and precious gemstones were incorporated in the creation of masterpieces. This art is used in the Taj Mahal-the monument of love-and in several other Mughal monuments to embellish them. But this traditional art is in danger today and only few experts are available around, despite being it a protected art.

In fact, marble-inlaying is an intricate technique that involves manual work from cutting & carving tiny pieces of precious stones, and embedding on marbles to create different artefacts. Marble-inlaying starts with engraving some pre-defined patters such as floral design or geometrical design on the marble slab. Thenceforth, tiny pieces of gems in different shades are carved exquisitely to exactly fit in these grooves. Then these tiny gems are slipped in the grooves giving an alluring look.

The Taj Mahal is the greatest testimony of Pietra-Dura art in India, the main floor and the surrounding marble railings in particular that bear true resemblances to this India form of Pietra-Dura marble inlay art. This art is widely used in making marble table tops more adorable. Usually, Makrana marble is used as white base and Kudappa Stone as black base in a marble table top. Dozens of semi-precious and natural stones are used in marble table top to give the inlay designs look more natural and fascinating.

This art is still alive in India at two different places – Agra, U. P., and Rajasthan. Agra is mostly known for table tops, flooring, and wall decorative; whereas Rajasthan is for Parchin Kari which is even more sophisticated art of marble inlay. Its work pieces are quite expensive and alluring.

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