ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel
  • »
  • Arts and Design»
  • Sculpture, Statues & Carving

Pietra Dura - An Intricate Inlaying Decorative Art

Updated on April 10, 2013

Pietra dura is an Italian word, meaning 'hard stone'. It signifies the technique of inlaying of pieces of coloured stones resulting into some images representing a decorative art. This art is very old, appearing in Rome in 16th century. Subsequently, it reached Florence to attain the status of a fully developed art. The final product after inlaying is mostly a unique polished surface and continues to be a major attraction in stone carving.

In India, many historical buildings like The Taj Mahal and Agra Fort at Agra and Red Fort at Delhi exhibit this art where marble and semi-precious sotnes have been used. Other countires also have used this art for various purposes.

The intro photo is a table top which is very popular among tourists visiting Agra. Incidentally, it is copy of an art work at the famous Taj Mahal.

Pietra dura at Red Fort, Delhi


The famous Red Fort at Delhi has a beautiful floral patterns inlaid in the Diwan-i-Khas, the hall of private audiences, used by Emperor Shah Jahan. This 17th century structure bears testimony to the tastes of the Emperor and these floral decorations in this Hall are still attracting tourists.


The complete work with flowers, both inside and outer border, can be observed in the above picture of a column at Red Fort, Delhi. The cost factor did not deter the ruler from presenting the best possible Pietra dura of that time.

Taj Mahal, Agra - Outer Picture


The outer walls of Taj Mahal, the world famous monument of love at Agra, have beautiful floral arranged over raised floral decorative patterns. The marble positioned inside and outside this monument reminds one of the mastery achieved by the artisans in carving.

Taj Mahal, Agra - Inner Chamber


The Inner Chamber of Taj Mahal has cenotaphs of Emperor Shah Jahan and Queen Mumtaj Mahal. Both have been tastefully decorated with Pietra dura on all sides.

Jali - Screens used at Taj Mahal


Screens (Jali) used in the Taj Mahal are also unique that these are decorated with inlaying of coloured stones. The patterns used here are also appealing.

Semi-precious Stones/pietra Dura Mosaic Art

Semi-precious Stones/pietra Dura Mosaic Art
Semi-precious Stones/pietra Dura Mosaic Art

This is a wonderful unique handmade mosaic of a natural Landscape; colorful mountains, trees alongsise, the river beneath and the sky above. "Pietra Dura Art" This item(MP127) is composed of all natural Semi-Precious Stones. Using the sec tile technique, natural stones are cut into different patterns and shapes to fit the component parts of the given design. This piece can be framed with natural wood of a cherry or darck brown color that can be customized to suit your furniture color.(extra charge)


Musamman Burj in the Agra Fort, Agra


Musamman Burj in the Agra Fort at Agra is a beautiful octagonal structure built by Emperor Shah Jahan for his wife Mumtaj Mahal. Built between 1631-40, this tower has decorations on the walls done with Pietra dura. The column shown above is an example of the intricate artistic work done in this building.

Details of columns of Musamman Burj


Detail of the artistic work in the columns of Musamman Burj can be seen here. It is an irony of fate that Emperor Shah Jahan had to live in captivity in this Burj during his last days. He could only see Taj Mahal from the window of this building.

Diwan-e-Khas of Agra Fort


The story of decorations does not end with Mussamman Burj but other buidings in the campus of the Fort also have Pietra dura work. Excellent multi-coloured stone decorations on marble pillars in the Diwan-e Khas (House of Lords) of Agra Fort are other examples of artistic passion of the rulers at that time.

Interior of Cathedral of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, Dubrovnik, Croatia


It is not only in India alone but there are other countries also where beautiful artistic work has been done using Pietra dura. One such beautiful example is Cathedral of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary at Dubrovnik in Croatia. The colour combination, symmetry ad the design are fantastic.

Furniture support medallions with hard stone, France


It is not only walls or columns where this art has been used. But it has also found a place in floor mosaic and some items for domestic use. Furniture support medallions with hard stone in France shown above is an example of it.

Explaining the whole process of Pietra Dura inlaying

Your opinion about Pietra Dura

How much popular is Pietra Dura in your country?

See results


Submit a Comment

  • srsddn profile image

    srsddn 4 years ago from Dehra Dun, India

    sukkran, I am glad you liked it. It is an old art and still in vogue. Thanks for visiting. Have a nice week end.

  • sukkran profile image

    Mohideen Basha 4 years ago from TRICHY, TAMIL NADU, INDIA.

    first time heard about this artwork. simply eyecatching! thanks for sharing an interesting page.

  • KrisL profile image

    KrisL 5 years ago from S. Florida

    Thanks to srsddn for writing and to Angelo for sharing this beautiful hub. The first example, from the Red Fort, is my favorite.

  • srsddn profile image

    srsddn 5 years ago from Dehra Dun, India

    Angelo52, Thanks for visiting. I am glad you liked it.

    Natashalh, sometimes we come across certain things which we had misssed for long and it is never too late to learn. Thanks for stopping by.

  • Natashalh profile image

    Natasha 5 years ago from Hawaii

    This is so beautiful! I had no idea what it was called - thank you! Voting up, beautiful, and interesting.

  • Angelo52 profile image

    Angelo52 5 years ago from Central Florida

    These inlaid mosaic works of art are very interesting. Seems like making them is complicated. Still the finished work is pretty.