2018

Handcrafted Stone Products of Agra

Dastkari Haat Samiti

Discover the range of handcrafted stone products from Agra, India

Stone Inlay and Carving: Craft of Agra, Anwar Handicraft, 2018-02, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti
The rich architectural heritage of Agra is enriched by two craft traditions, those of stone carving and inlay. Stone carving has ancient origins, and in fact is found in various centres of north India. Inlay work with semi-precious stone in marble, on the other hand, was introduced by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in the 17th century, and is unique to Agra. He brought skilled Persian artisans to train local craftsmen, who were then put to work on his inspired projects.  
Stone Inlay and Carving: At the Taj Mahal, 2018-02, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti
Historically, both the crafts had architectural applications. They can be seen in the architectural legacy of the city on a grand scale. Their best known examples are in the iconic Taj Mahal, which remains a source of inspiration for the craft. Their current avatars have taken on a modified form, employed on a much smaller products. 
Stone Inlay and Carving: Craft of Agra, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti
In Agra itself, all manner of carved and inlaid stone artefacts are seen in the form of decorative articles and souvenirs that can conveniently pack into a tourist’s luggage. The craftsmen’s products also travel further afield to high end stores dealing with interiors and lifestyle products. Here they are found also in larger form – as lamps, screens, and furniture. Marble inlay table tops as large as 6 x 4 feet are sold in the major metros of India, and find their way also to the export market. 
Stone Inlay and Carving: Craft of Agra, 2018-02, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti
Parallel to the reduction in size of hand crafted stone products, there has progressively been an increase in the refinement of design. Mostly staying within the geometric and floral design vocabulary of their forebears, the stone craftsmen of Agra have taken the tradition to a much more delicate and intricate level.
Stone Inlay and Carving: Craft of Agra, Narendar Kumar Verma, stone artisan from Agra and winner of UNESCO Seal of Excellence, 2018-02, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti
Stone crafted products of Agra
Stone Inlay and Carving: Craft of Agra, Narendar Kumar Verma, stone artisan from Agra and winner of UNESCO Seal of Excellence, 2018-02, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti

Locally known as jaali work, hand carved fret-work requires a mastery of the medium and technique.

Stone Inlay and Carving: Craft of Agra, Narendar Kumar Verma, stone artisan from Agra and winner of UNESCO Seal of Excellence, 2018-02, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti

The artisans have mastered the art of carving within a carved object, a technique known locally as 'undercut'.

Stone Carving: Craft of Agra, 2018-02, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti

Detail of a hand carved soapstone.

Some fret-work or jaali designs are made completely by hand, requiring a high degree of skill and precision on the part of the artisan.

Stone Inlay and Carving: Craft of Agra, Narendar Kumar Verma, 2018-02, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti

Hand carved jaali or fret-work is used for decorative products like boxes.

Stone Inlay and Carving: Craft of Agra, Narendar Kumar Verma, stone artisan from Agra and winner of UNESCO Seal of Excellence, 2018-02, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti

Hand carved jaali or fret-work is also used to made utilitarian products like candle holders.

Stone Inlay and Carving: Craft of Agra, Narendar Kumar Verma, 2018-02, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti

Carving and fret-work are used to make a variety of decorative objects.

Stone Inlay: Craft of Agra, 2018-02, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti
Stone Inlay: products made using the city's unique craft
Stone Inlay and Carving: Craft of Agra, Anwar Handicraft, 2018-02, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti

Detail of a marble inlay table top with design made with lapis lazuli and mother of pearl.

Stone Inlay and Carving: Craft of Agra, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti

A decorative plate with inlay of malachite, onyx and mother of pearl.

Stone Inlay and Carving: Craft of Agra, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti

Decorative plate with inlay of onyx, malachite, lapis and turquoise.

Stone Inlay and Carving: Craft of Agra, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti

Detail: vase with inlay of onyx, malachite, lapis and turquoise.

Stone Inlay and Carving: Craft of Agra, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti

Decorative bottle with inlay of lapis, onyx, turquoise and malachite.

Stone Inlay and Carving: Craft of Agra, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti

Elephant with inlay of turquoise and mother of pearl, combining inlay and carving work.

Stone Inlay and Carving: Craft of Agra, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti

Detail of a table top of inlaid black marble.

Stone Inlay and Carving: Craft of Agra, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti

Table top of inlaid black marble.

Stone Inlay and Carving: Craft of Agra, 2018-02, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti
Dastkari Haat Samiti
Credits: Story

Text: Aloka Hiremath
Photography: Sunil Verma
Artisans: Narendar Kumar Verma, Anwar Khan, Mohammad Rais, Vakiluddin and associates in the community
Ground Facilitator: Aloka Hiremath
Curation: Ruchira Verma

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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