Authors: George Michell and Mark Zebrowski
Publisher:  Cambridge University Press – 297 pages
Book Review by: Sonu Chandiram

This unique book is rare in that it is a descriptive account of not only the architecture of the period of Indian history that it covers, it is also about the then-prevailing art in the country, so it is an unusual and delightful combination for readers and students of history, art, architecture, and culture or combinations thereof.

In particular, the authors itemize on pages ix to xvii -200 items described as ‘Figures’: these are  assortments of black and white  drawings, sketches and photos. On pages viii and ix, a list of 16 color plates is found. These 16 colorful sketches are simply stunning!

More than describing the architecture and art of this unusual segment of India’s history, the authors also discuss other aspects and components of the culture of this period in Indian history, such as paintings.

On the architectural aspects of this period, they write about mosques and temples, as well as their components such as the entry ways and gates, and their decorative features such as artistic and decorative ornamentations on the walls, tiles on the floors and elements of greenery on the outside grounds. The book also contains floor plans and maps.

The authors have provided this brief table of contents that we present below to provide you an overview of what you will find in this book of nearly 300 pages:

 

Introduction

  1. Historical Framework
  2. Forts and Palaces
  3. Mosques and tombs
  4. Architectural decoration
  5. Miniature painting: Ahmadnagar and Bijapur
  6. Miniature painting: Golconda and other centers
  7. Textiles, metalwork and stone objects
  8. Temples
  9. Conclusion

In this book you will also be able to feast your eyes on the furniture and fixtures in the homes of people living in those years, such as mats, rugs, and tables, as well as household objects such as bowls, incense burners of many kinds made of different metals, jugs, trays, water carriers, etc.

All in all this unique book provides readers an educational and enlightening look at the life and times of a long-forgotten era of Indian life. It also constitutes an unusually informative adventure of discovery.

 

Authors:

George Michell is an architect, archeologist, and art historian. He has worked on numerous research projects in different parts of India, most recently in documenting the medieval Hindu capital of Vijayanagara. His publications include Architecture and Art of Southern India: Vijayanagara and the Successor States (1995) and City of Victory: Vijayanagara, the Medieval City of Southern India (1991).

Mark Zebrowski is an art historian. He has studied Mughal India and the art of the Deccan for many years and has recently completed a book on Indian metalwork: Gold, Silver and Bronze from Mughal India (1997). He is also the author of Deccan Painting (1983). At present he is working on the decorative arts of the Mughal empire.