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Catherine B Asher (1992)

Architecture of Mughal India

Cambridge University Press, Cambridge; New York, 1st ed. New Cambridge History of India. (ISBN: 0521267285 9780521267281).

The world famous Taj Mahal is but one of the many magnificent buildings erected by the Mughal emperors who ruled India from the early sixteenth century through to the middle of the nineteenth. To date scholars have considered the most splendid of these works built by the rulers, while the lesser known or remotely situated structures have been ignored altogether. In this volume, Professor Catherine Asher considers the entire scope of architecture built under the auspices of the imperial Mughals and their subjects. Professor Asher covers the precedents of Mughal style and traces the architectural development of each monarchical reign. She shows that the evolution of imperial Mughal architectural taste and idiom was directly related to political and cultural ideology. This was the case from the planting of an ordered and regular garden, symbolic of paradise, and the building of state mosques, to the construction of an entire planned city, indicative of the emperor's role as father to his people. Construction outside the center, which was often carried out by the nobility, was as important as developments within the major cities. Catherine Asher demonstrates how these agents of the emperor curried favor with their rulers by building large and permanent edifices in the imperial Mughal style. Even though Mughal authority diminished considerably in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, the imperial Mughal architectural style and taste served as a model for that in developing splinter states. This book shows how it represented the cultural and social values of the Mughals, which were cherished by Muslims living increasingly under western colonial rule. In Architecture of Mughal India Catherine Asher presents the first comprehensive study of Mughal architectural achievements. The work is lavishly illustrated and will be widely read by students and specialists of South Asian history and architecture as well as by anyone interested in the magnificent buildings of the Mughal empire.