Islamic Decorative Schemes
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The decorative scheme of the Taj Mahal complex follows the Islamic tradition of combining calligraphic, floral and abstract geometric motifs. Three types of media are used to create these patterns: stone carving in high relief, painted stucco and inlaid hard stone. When compared with contemporary European decoration there is a noticeable lack of figurative art. Islamic scriptures define the act of creation of the animal kingdom as one of Allah's own characteristics. To attempt to imitate this creative act would therefore be blasphemous.
The calligraphy that adorns important arches within the complex makes extensive reference to Paradise. This gives the viewer a clue as to the reasons behind the choice of the other two types of decoration, the floral and geometric patterns.
Flowers are often seen as a reference to Paradise, their blooms and color a testament to the abundant waters and fruitful nature of the gardens of Eden. In much Timurid architecture, which the Mughals greatly admired,
Geometric patterns and well proportioned designs were also seen as an indication of divine harmony and peace. This idea may have inspired the balanced and harmonious abstract designs that ornament the Taj Mahal.
A combination of the three types of motif - calligraphic, floral and geometric - creates a decorative scheme that forms part of an earthly representation of a heavenly paradise.