Tomb of I'tmad-Ud-Daulah (Eyteymaaduddowlah)



(1622-28 A.D.)




In an interesting paper titled, 'Decagonal and Quasi-Crystalline Tilings in Medieval Islamic Architecture', authored by Peter J. Lu, et al, Science 315, 1106 (2007) it has been convincingly argued that by the 1200 A.D. Islamic mathematicians had made a breakthrough in geometry that made it possible to create extraordinary complex patterns having a 10-fold rotational symmetry. A set of five tile types, now called Ďgirih tilesí, in any combinations serve as templates for tessellation with patterns incorporating decagonal symmetry.



This advance in use of mathematics in architecture was impressively exploited in decorating Islamic buildings constructed in 15th and 16th centuries in Afghanistan, Iran, India and Turkey. Tilings expressing complex decagonal motif based on tessellation with three types of girih tiles can be seen in the monument at Agra known as 'Iítmad-Ud-Daula'. It was built in 1611 by Nur Jehan, wife of Mughal emperor Jehangir, as a mausoleum of her parents. I made a visit to Agra to see this monument. I was rewarded much beyond my expectations when I saw this beautiful monument, which French visitors have appropriately called petite Taj. I am happy to share with the users of the web a pictorial album of Iítmad-Ud-Daula with a fond hope that perhaps visitors who come to Agra to see the Taj Mahal may plan to include in their itinerary a visit to this extraordinarily beautiful monument.


I'tmad-Ud-Daulah is the tomb of Mirza Ghiyas Beg and his wife Asmat Begum. He hailed from Iran and served Akbar. He was father of the famous 'Nur-Jehan' and grandfather of 'Mumtaz-Mahal' of the famous Taj Mahal fame. He was made Vazir (Prime Minister) after Nur Jehan's marriage with Jehangir in 1611. He held the title I'tmad-Ud-Daulah (The Lord Treasurer). He died at Agra in 1622, a few months after his wife's death. Nur Jehan built this tomb for her parents between 1622 and 1628. Her own tomb and that of Jehangir are at Lahore.



The tomb is situated on the Eastern bank of the river Yamuna at Agra. It is located in the centre of a char-bagh (four quartered garden), with the usual enclosing walls and side buildings. Its main gate is on the Eastern side. Ornamental gateways with prominent lawns are built in the middle of North and South sides. A multi-storeyed open pavilion on the Western side overlooks the river impressively. The outer buildings are of red stone with inlaid designs in white marble.

Shallow water channels, sunk in the middle of the raised stone pathways, with intermittent tanks and cascades, divide the garden into four equal quarters. They are only slightly raised from the parterres which could be converted into flower beds. Space for large plants and trees was reserved just adjoining the enclosing walls, leaving the mausoleum open to view.

The most important aspect of this tomb is its polychrome ornamentation. Exterior walls of the tomb have been covered with beautiful floral and geometrical designs have. Inside the oblong rooms using pleasing tints and tones wall paintings were made of wine-vases, flower vases, and such other Iranian motifs, typical of the art of Jahangir. By far, it is the most gorgeously ornamented Mughal building. It testifies that 'Mughals began like titans and finished like jewellers'.

The tomb of I'tmad-Ud-Daulah is a masterpiece of dome-less class of Mughal tombs. It is made in white marble and marks transitional phase from red stone to white marble, from the Akbar's tomb, Sikandara, to the Taj Mahal.



















































A modest attempt to draw manually a pattern with 10-fold rotational symmetry using in combination decagonal, hexagonal and bow girih tiles is shown below.



The same pattern has been redrawn using computer for colour selection of tiles and obtaining a line sketch. We show them below