Jali screen

c. 18th century
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General Description

Jalis are openwork stone screens that allow air and light to pass from the outside of a house or court to the inside. This example combines the Islamic sense of geometric and abstract design with an Indic feeling for richly floral and tree form ornamentation. The result is both dynamically three-dimensional and formally elegant.

Such screens are related in style to other Mughal architectural and decorative works, in which the design is symmetrical and abstract, though naturalistic imagery, particularly floral, is integrated into the overall pattern. Mughal emperors from Babur to Shah Jahan were interested in the abundant array of flowering plant life they observed in India. When used as part of an architectural design, floral motifs might be quite realistically carved or treated as repetitive, stylized ornaments.

Adapted from

  • Anne Bromberg, "Pair of j_ali_ screens," in The Arts of India, South East Asia, and the Himalayas, Anne R. Bromberg (Dallas: Dallas Museum of Art; New Haven: Yale University Press, 2013), 113.

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