This late Mughal embroidered wall hanging illustrates two important themes in Indian Islamic art. The form of the hangings duplicates the architectural arch or niche and the vibrantly coloured silk embroidery on the plain ground mirrors the pietra dura inlay in the white marble of many Mughal buildings. The flowering plant or stem within the alcove is also a key element in Islamic design. Evoking an earthly version of the garden of Paradise, it is a popular motif in all art media. In this textile the sinuous branches of blossoms rise from a layered mound of rocks or water, a Persian adaptation of the Chinese rock and seascape.
Such hangings provided temporary structures for outdoor activities of Mughal rulers and members of their courts. Forming wind-breaks and tent walls for hunting and military encampments and decoration to pleasure pavilions, these striking examples of Islamic portable art made clear allusion to the formal gardens and noble architecture of the Mughal dynasty.
Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2011
From: Asian gallery extended display label