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JALI (lattice work) : A photographic introduction
Poetry in stone : Jali work in photographs
The Jali designs or patterns
Mostly, these are geometric & floral/vegetative designs. Geometric designs are a little easier to carve, hence this is the predominant type seen. Floral patterns, because of the curved nature, is a little difficult to produce. Some excellent example of the latter can be seen in Sidi Sayeed Mosque in Ahmedabad, Gujarat
JALI ( lattice work): A photographic introduction
The word “Jali” or “Jaali” means net or lattice work produced in wood, metal or stone screen, usually with an ornamental pattern. Lattice work was used in Indo-Saracen architecture for window openings, as false doors, as railing & screens in mausoleums.
Jali may be of wood or metal, but in vast majority of cases Jali works are of stone. Stone Jali, as seen in different architecture in India, mainly from Mughal periods, is a treat to see & in majority of cases so beautiful that they are simply awe inspiring.
Here, a short description of the stone Jali work with supporting photographs will be presented.
The Jali screens were sculpted mainly from two types of stone :
- Sandstone (both Red & Yellow variety).
Examples of the former are found in several forts & palaces of Rajasthan & Gujarat, while the most intricate marble Jali works can be seen the Taj mahal & in the mausoleum of Saint Salim Chisti at Fatehpur Sikri, Uttar Pradesh.
Jaswant Thada, Jodhpur, Rajsthan : A Palace with many Jali works
The best Jali in this hub
Which one , in your opinion, is the best among the lot shown here?
Construction technique of Jali work
The Jali artist first draws the design on the stone, then cuts through the stone with fine chisels , hammers & borers. The design is carved halfway through one side and then through the other. Once the pattern to be created has been roughly cut through the slab, it is made even and perfect with different kinds of fine chisels of varying sizes and given a final polish with water and a kind of abrasive stone that comes from Jabalpur.
The process is so delicate that there is no room for any mistake. Each Jali work is to be hewn and chiseled from a block of stone into an intricate design of fragile stone filament, & this really needs a superhuman skill & effort.
Why Jali works were used
- Jali work, with the perforated construction, serves as a kind of air-conditioning system to the buildings where it is used. It keeps the fierce sunlight out, yet allowing the breeze to blow in & out.
- Jali often works as a Purdah or screen that served to keep privacy of the ladies. Through the Jali the ladies can see outside, but not the reverse.
- Beautification : Intricate Jali works serve as beautification measure for a building.
Some famous Jali works in India
Jali work was an integral part of architecture in Northern & North-western India since long. It flourished during the Mughal periods, when the Royals & the Rich equally patronized this. As a result, innumerable buildings, palaces, forts, temples, mosques & mausoleums became decorated with stone Jali work. This beautiful work spread to other parts of India also.
Below a list of some famous structures with top class stone Jali work is given. (However, the list is by no means complete, it is only a list of places visited & photographed by the author himself).
- The Taj Mahal.
- Agra Fort.
- Red Fort, Delhi.
- The Mausoleum of Saint Salim Chisti, Fatehpur Sikri.
- Humayun’s Tomb, Delhi.
- Sidi Sayeed (Sayid) Mosque, Ahmedabad, Gujarat.
- Bibiji Mosque, Ahmedabad, Gujarat
- Junagad Fort, Bikaner, Rajsthan.
- Lalbag palace, Bikaner, Rajsthan.
- Meherangad Fort, Jodhpur, Rajsthan.
- Jaswant Thada, Jodhpur, Rajsthan.
- Jaisalmer Fort, Jaisalmer, Rajsthan
- Patwan Ki Haveli, Jaisalmer, Rajsthan.
- Amar Sagar, Jaisalmer, Rajsthan.
- Bramha temple, Puskar, Rajsthan.
- Aurangjeb’s tomb, Khultabad, Maharashtra.
- Bibi Ka Maqbara, Aurangabad, Maharashtra
- Sachkhand Gurdwara, Nanded, Maharashtra.
- Rukmani temple, Dwarka, Gujarat.
Jaali : Poetry in stone
The Jali work as a rule is very beautiful, but there are some which are really extremely intricate & awe-inspiring. These include those of the Taj Mahal, Salim Chisti’s mausoleum at Fatehpur Sikri, Sidi Sayid mosque in Ahmedabad, Patwan ki Haveli in Jaisalmer, Junagad fort in Bikaner & Jaisalmer fort in Jaisalmer.
The Jali work of Salim Chisti’s mausoleum & that of Sidi Sayid mosque, are, however, something special.
The Jali work of Sidi Sayid Mosque, Ahmedabad, Gujarat
This merits a separate discussion as it is to many the most intricate Jali work in stone.
This rather small mosque, built in 1573 AD is located near the Teen Darwaja in Ahmedabad. The stone Jali work at the rear wall (in four window-arches) is the finest one can ever see. There are five arches in the rear wall, of which the central one is solid without any Jali work. The inner two arches have superbly crafted floral & plant motifs, while the outer ones on either side has multiple box-like structures with intricate geometric patterns. The State & the Central government of India has declared this Jali as a symbol of Love and Friendship.
The Sidi Saiyyed Jali is said to be the unofficial symbol of the city of Ahmedabad and served as an inspiration for the logo of Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad.