''Jali'' - perforated stone screen - Moguls made it part of Indo-Islamic architecture and popularized it!!

  Jali  is  a window screen mostly made of hard stone and was widely used in Indo- Islamic architecture of past era in the Indian sub  continent and  primary  purpose  was to allow filtered sunlight  into the interior,  keep indoors cool and  to  provide  privacy for the people inside the building. It is to be noted that  air particles flowing inside the building through small apertures gain momentum. Consequently emerging air from the small holes  expands and cools,  Jali acts aa a medium  that  controls  compression and release of cooled air inside the house.

We all know that Jalis or stone lattice windows keep the interior cool and pleasant by blocking the sun light. It is most suitable for coastal areas where humid condition will aggravate the hot condition.  The size of jali varies depending on the regions.

The jali, or pierced screens, have been extensively employed in Indian buildings   for several centuries They first  appeared in Buddhist temples (first to second century CE) and in  Hindu temples 9since 5th Century CE).  Later  the concept of Indo -Islamic architecture began take shape and the architects understood the value and utility of perforated stone screes in construction work. Because of their dedicated efforts jali became part of      Indo-Islamic design style. The credit goes to the Moguls who  first introduced  this  feature in the Mogul architecture.  Mind you, they did not invent it as  wrongly mentioned in  some posts. 

Prior to the arrival of Mogul dynasty  the jali, an element of Hindu and Buddhist temple architecture had been in use in India and Burma  for several centuries.  As a matter of fact ''Jali or  stone lattice window was part of Hindu temple architecture dated back to 5th century CE.'' These ancient marvels were found in the Pattadakal temple complex in Karnataka and the Kailasa temple in Ellora, Maharashtra. Generations of skilled artisans  diligently  made  latticed and perforated slabs of wood or stone to serve  as windows, partitions,   room dividers, and railings for balconies. Earlier in  structures like rock-cut  temple  built by the Buddhists in the western region of the Deccan plateau (now part of Maharashtra), wood was mainly used to make jali and the wooden  screens were at top of arched entrance.  

Understanding the value and utility of jali, the Islamic rulers of India  particularly Moguls,  incorporated  jali as an integral part of Indo- Islamic architecture. They invented many fascinating designs and  preferred  much softer rocks like marble, sandstone, etc., as it was much easier to carve intricate designs in them. Such beautifully designed jalis were  most suitable for the palaces, mausoleums, mosques, etc. Jali was given equal importance along with extensive inlay work, usually including arabesque patterns, floral motifs, and Nasta’liq calligraphy of Quranic scripture. 

Muslim architects included jali mainly to enhance the aesthetics of their  design style. They realized that they could add artistic flair to their distinctive architectural style. These perforated screens are often used in the fa├žade of the buildings, as windows, partition walls, skylights, door panels, railings, etc. he Mughal passion for arabesque and geometric patterns is exemplified in the jali.  During the mogul time stone artisans  were well skilled  in the field of jali making  and meticulously carve eye-catching  designs -  zigzag  patterns of interlocking rosettes and crosses. Mogul king Akbar preferred simpler patters in hexagonal (six)  and octagonal forms (eight). Later rulers like Shah Jehan went ahead and preferred floral motif and added  pietra dura inlay with semi-precious gemstone accent to  the frame  of jali. This will add up the splendor of the structure at he very first look.    

No doubt they became part of funerary  monuments during the Mogul reign.  The distinctive advantage of perforated stone screens is  outside world is visible to the residents indoors  whereas  inside is not visible from outside. This is the  reason why Muslim rulers had built the women's quarters and also harem  in the palace complex with a lots jali windows for privacy purposes.  The well-designed jally, apart from casting patterned silhouette on the wall and floor, after sundown when the hall is lit with lanterns, the artificial light throws amazing and romantic patterns inside the hall. 

Tomb of Md. Ghaus, Gewalior nomadographer.com

Above image: The Mughal period tomb of Muhammad Ghaus built in 1565 AD at Gwalior is famous for  its stone jalis. 

jali in Humayun tomb, Delhi. artofislamicpattern.com

Salim Chist's tomb, Fatehpur Sikri, UP..wikiwand.com

Jali  Bibi-ka-Maqbara, Aurangabad Alamy.com

Jali, Bibi-ka-Maqbara, Aurangabad.dreamstime.com/

Jali Bibi-ka-Maqbara, Aurangabad.istockphoto.com


Sarkhej Roza, mosque  Ahmedabad,GJ.dreamstime.com

Above image: Carved jali on the outer wall of Sarkhej Roza, mosque and tomb complex. Makarba, Ahmedabad, Gujarat