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Marble Stone inlays….”Parchin Kari” from Agra in India

That was an Art Sore in the “Duty Free zone” inside IGI Airport New Delhi and I was waiting to board a flight to Frankfurt.

All on a sudden while window shopping at different outlets this craftsman busy in giving shapes to coloured marbles on plates and other show piece materials caught my attention.With due permission from the gentleman I took these shots with an intention to popularise the fine art among my learned friends and make them thrive.

He was taking pieces of colored marble stones and was giving them shapes with the wooden drill to put on plates and it was really a nice experience I would love to share with you my readers.

A ”handicraft”, sometimes more precisely expressed as ”Artisanal Handicraft” or ”handmade”, is any of a wide variety of types of work where useful and decorative objects are made completely by hand or by using only simple tools. It is a traditional main sector of craft, and applies to a wide range of creative and design activities that are related to making things with one’s hands and skill, including work with textiles, moldable and rigid materials, stones , paper, plant fibers, in India and else where in different parts of the World etc. 

“Pietra dura”  or ”pietre dure” called “parchin kari” or ”parchinkari” in the Indian Subcontinent , is a term for the “Inlay Technique” of using cut and fitted, highly polished coloured stones to create images. It is considered a decorative art . The stonework, after the work is assembled loosely, is glued stone-by-stone to a substrate after having previously been sliced and cut in different shape sections; and then assembled together so precisely that the contact between each section was practically invisible .  Many different coloured stones, particularly marbles, are used, along with semiprecious stones , and even gemstone . It first appeared in Rome in the 16th century, reaching its full maturity in Florence . “Pietra dura” items are generally crafted on green, white or black marble base stones.

Parchin kari

By the early part of the 17th century, smaller objects produced by the Opificio were widely diffused throughout Europe, and as far East to the court of the Mughal Empire in Indian art , where the form was imitated and reinterpreted in a native style & its most sumptuous expression is found in the Taj Mahal . In Mughal India, pietra dura was known as ”Parchin kari”, literally ‘inlay’ or ‘driven-in’ work.

Due to the Taj Mahal” being one of the major tourist attractions, there is a flourishing industry of “Pietra Dura artifacts” in Agra ranging from tabletops, medallions, elephants and other animal forms, jewellery boxes and other decorative items. This art form is fully alive and thriving in Agra, India though the patterns in the designs are more Persian than Roman or Medician.

I would love to dedicate this blog to all Craft Lovers and Craftsman struggling to thrive & let’s promote “HANDICRAFT”.


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