But who could have built the Taj Mahal? Such a large building could not be built with a small team, and the organization of the site has necessarily been very effective to achieve this point of success. This page aims to answer the question "Who built the Taj Mahal?"
Who built the Taj Mahal?
If we talk about the initiator of the project, it was Shah Jahan, the 5th emperor of the Mughal dynasty who ruled India from the fifteenth to the nineteenth century. He launched this grandiose project to offer a tomb worthy of the love he bore to his third wife, who died in childbirth at the birth of his 14th child.
But Shah Jahan was only the principal, he ordered the tomb, with his gardens, his terrace, his mausoleum, but he did not participate in the development of the project.
Documents relating to the construction of the Taj Mahal
Finally we have few documents on the construction of the Taj Mahal, so it is quite difficult to trace the history of this project. Especially since according to the Muslim tradition, in the seventeenth century, a building was attributed to its initiator, financier and beneficiary and not to its designer, architect, and even less to the workers. History has taught us that the Taj Mahal was built by Shah Jahan.
But we still dispense several Persian origin lists in which are found the name and origin of some craftsmen who took charge of a given work on the monument. Thanks to these documents we note that the number of craftsmen had to be very small, which is incompatible with the enormity of the work to be done. There is a commonly accepted theory today that the names inscribed correspond to the team leaders, to the person in charge of a given job, but that this work was done by a larger team. Moreover, the cost of the work proves, by their high prices, that it corresponded to the wages of several people and not of a single one.
These documents are also interesting because they show the original variety of artisans. Thus we know that the sculptors were more of Bukhara, the calligraphers of Syria and Persia, the workmen making inlays of southern India, the stone cutters of Baluchistan, and so on. Other regions were widely represented: Rajasthan, Malwa, Gujarat and Punjab, for example.
When the trades, they are quoted in the number of forty good and correspond to what one expects on such a site: It is about draftsmen, masons, stonemasons, sculptors, marqueteurs, dome builders, calligraphers, carpenters and garden designers, for example.
The main craftsmen
The columnist of the Mughal court Lahouri says in his stories that Shah Jahan asked that the buildings be made by craftsmen chosen after long reflections, once their skills proved. Two architects are commonly quoted, according to the writings of Lahauri's son, Lutfullah Muhandis:
- Ustad Ahmad Abdullah Lahauri
- Mir Abd-ul Karim
Ustad Ahmad Abdullah Lahauri laid the foundations of the red fort of delhi, while Mir Abd-ul Karim was the favorite architect of Shah Jahan Jahangir's father and was notified as supervisor with Makramat Khan of the construction of the Taj. Taj. It seems Lahauri was the chief architect whereas Mir Abdul Karim Khan and Mukkarimat, of Shiraz, were rather the managers of the building site: Finances, purchases, payments of wages, etc. One was taking care of the project, the others of its execution.
The dome requires very special skills, both for its design and for its realization. Let's remember that the domes of Mughal architecture are double: An outer surface, which we see, and an inner surface, which corresponds to the ceiling of the main hall. Ismail Afandi, of the Ottoman Empire, was in charge of designing the main dome.
Ustad Isa and Isa Muhammad Effendi, of Persia, were architectural designers, architects. The name 'Puru' of Benarus, in Persia, is also mentioned as a supervising architect. The gilding was the responsibility of Qazim Khan of Lahore. The chief sculptor was from Delhi, named Chiranjilal. He was also responsible for the mosaics. The calligrapher seems to have been Amanat Khan from Shiraz, Iran. The designer was Ustad 'Isa Afan di, from Shiraz. Ran Mal was the draftsman of the gardens, he came from Kashmir. Pira was master carpenter of Delhi, when at the dome builders, they worked under the responsibility of Ismail Khan Rumi. Finally the masons were under the supervision of Muhammad Hanif.
Qadir Zaman Khan was mentioned as dar-har-ek-phan-ustad-e-kamil, ie an expert in construction techniques which consisted of digging and filling the foundations, masonry, stone laying, lifting large weight blocks by ropes and pulleys, handling levels, maintaining drainage and dozens of other techniques in addition. Mir-Imarat was in charge of the overall construction of the Taj Mahal, he made the purchase and storage of materials, the recruitment of craftsmen and workers and disbursement of wages. He also coordinated all the work.
The books of account established during the construction of the Taj Mahal are a good source of information on the workers of the monument. It says for example that Ata Muhammad, stonemason, was paid 500 rupees a month. Shakir Muhammad from Bukhara received 400 while Muhammad Sajjad, a mason from Multan and Chiranjilal a facadier from Lahore, were paid 590 and 800 Rupees a month respectively. How was it possible knowing that the normal wages of such workers were only 15 rupees a month? Another question, which is related: Why go for workers so far knowing that the Indian civilization is known for the quality of its sculpture, its buildings?
The answer is simple: These people who are quoted in the account books are not workers but entrepreneurs, team leaders who were responsible for certain work and who had them done by skilled workers, probably from the populations. local. These huge sums were redistributed among several people, and the number of workers on the site was much larger than what is shown in these books.
The people who actually did the construction work of the Taj Mahal are unknown. We know today that there have been 20,000 people on this gigantic site over the years. Most recruited in North India, near Agra. By way of comparison, Emperor Babur employed 1491 skilled stonemasons on the construction of his buildings at Fatehpur Sikri, Bayana, Dholpur and Gwalior and 680 on the buildings of Agra, which, compared to the Taj Mahal , were very minor works.