Arts and Culture
The exterior surface of the northern and western walls of the Mughal fort in Lahore is decorated with kashi-kari or faience mosaic panels. Commissioned by Jahangir (r. 1605-1627) and Shah Jahan (r. 1628-1658), this unique specimen of Mughal architecture is spread across five hundred yards carrying images of human and animal figures as well as fantastic creatures such as dragons, simurghs, paris and jinns.
The intricate rendition of these images and their position on the exterior walls of the imperial residence raise several interesting questions in terms of the messages these communicate and their reception. Laden with symbols that infer historical events, the Picture Wall panels need to be read and interpreted in light of court chronicles and daily diaries like the Tuzuk-i Jahangiri and the Padshahnama. Imperial albums or muraqqas of miniature paintings are another source that offer visual data comparable to these panels. This paper discusses some of these iconographic messages and their intended audience to highlight their significance in Mughal material culture and to bring this valuable source of Mughal history out of obscurity.