The tomb of Mariam uz-Zamani, one of emperor Akbar’s powerful wives and the mother of his son and successor, Jahangir. The tomb is located in Agra, India.
Following the advent of the Mughals, their positions and reactions to the existing royal funerary architecture culture in the Muslim world in general and in India in particular, varied. For sure, there was no standardized approach to the matter. There were no established behavioral patterns that were strictly followed. On the whole, it all depended on the personal disposition of each and every emperor and his personality, as well as on the dispositions of some of his immediate family members. Hence, one cannot speak of an evolutionary process or a growth in Mughal royal funerary architecture where, for example, Humayun’s tomb is described as “an outstanding landmark in the development of the Mughal style”, or as a “successful foretaste” of the “perfection” of the Taj Mahal. A careful examination of Mughal royal monuments highlights a number of important facts which defy the laws of purported Mughal type evolution or development in relation to its stylistic homogeny, rationality and chronology, as elaborated by Michael Brand. The first fact is that the Mughals did not construct a single dynastic mausoleum. “If, as is quite possible, Humayun’s tomb was intended by Akbar to serve such a function, then Jahangir’s construction of a tomb for Akbar at Sikandra was an implicit rejection of the notion.” Secondly, none of the Mughal emperors were buried in the same city. Thirdly, there was no one form or style adopted for all the tombs, “although Humayun’s tomb and the Taj Mahal do share similar forms, and certain themes, such as the use of white marble and garden settings, do occur. Furthermore, this diversity of form does not even develop a single direction. There are clearly too many missing links and throwbacks to support a theory of evolution marching resolutely towards the Taj Mahal.”Read more: Main Thrusts of the Royal Funerary Architecture of the Mughals (Part One)
Jahangir’s tomb in Lahore, Pakistan.
When the Mughals arrived and began to assert themselves at the Muslim socio-political scene, the phenomenon of Muslim funerary architecture was more than a thousand years old. They thus inherited a legacy which was instigated and fomented by a variety of historical factors and through the contributions of a great many protagonists from a number of corners of the Muslim vast domain and from virtually all strata of its composite social configuration. It was extremely difficult for anybody to concoct and apply any completely novel ideas and genera, both at conceptual and physical planes. The most conceivable scenario for the Mughals, therefore, was to be ingenious followers and under some unprecedented religious and social circumstances and conditions to bring the ubiquitous funerary architectural trends to some higher level of particularly artistic and architectural refinement and exquisiteness, something like what happened -- to a much lesser extent though -- to the funerary architectural legacies of the Mughals’ contemporaries, the Osmanlis and Safavids.Read more: Contextualizing the Royal Funerary Architecture of the Mughals
The Taj Mahal in Agra, India.
The Mughals were a Muslim dynasty of Turkic-Mongol origin that ruled most of the northern Indian subcontinent from the early 10th AH/ 16th CE to the mid-12th AH/ 18th CE century, after which it continued to exist as a considerably reduced and increasingly powerless entity until the mid-13th AH/ 19th CE century. At the height of their power in the 11th AH/ 17th CE century, the Mughals were in command of most of the subcontinent. “The Mughal dynasty was notable for its more than two centuries of effective rule over much of India, for the ability of its rulers, who through seven generations maintained a record of unusual talent, and for its administrative organization. A further distinction was the attempt of the Mughals, who were Muslims, to integrate Hindus and Muslims into a united Indian state.”Read more: The Mughals and Monumental Royal Mausoleums