Stone and stucco were the chosen media for an important and characteristic Islamic architectural element: carved and pierced window screening panels which allowed ventilation while providing privacy and shade to the interior. From early Islamic times these were executed in both materials and were employed in religious and secular buildings. Stucco techniques were highly developed and widely used to embellish interiors as well as these window grilles.
Islamic masons inherited a tradition of carving stone for decorating the exteriors and interiors of buildings from the ancient world, and the palaces of the first Islamic dynasty, the Umayyad Caliphs, were enhanced by richly carved vegetal and abstract motifs. Arabic calligraphy soon became one of the most important elements of architectural decoration. Beautiful examples of calligraphy on tombstones provide us with important fixed chronologies for the development of a variety of calligraphic styles.
In the Mughal era stone predominated, and many large and beautiful screens were produced. White marble panels inlaid with semi-precious stones and other coloured materials were also created in India during that period.
View some of the collection below.