The Italian word Pietra dura literally means hard rock but is perhaps better translated as durable stone. This intricate marble inlay artwork first appeared in Rome in the 1500’s but actually reached its full creative sophistication late in the same century in Florence. Pietra dura soon appeared on easily transportable items and consequently the Mughals were introduced to its splendor via gifts and examples that travelled from Europe to the Middle East. In the 17th century, they in turn showered India with their own adaptation of the same beauty in the form of the magnificent marble inlay work adorning the Taj Mahal in Agra.

Probably the most revered and treasured monument of love of all time, the Taj Mahal is a fine example of the passion and dexterity involved with this type of artwork. Commissioned by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, almost 22,000 artisans made Agra their home during the 22 year period of construction. Since this time, this delicate handicraft has remained a fundamental element of Agra’s heritage. Passed down from father to son, the tradition has been kept in the family all these years. As a result, the highly skilled craftsmen who fashioned the Taj Mahal are the forefathers of the artists currently employed at our very own Agra Marble Emporium.

Today, Indian marble inlay craft or Parchin kari is one of the most attractive and popular forms of art on the subcontinent. Techniques have remained virtually unchanged and to this day everything is created exclusively by hand. The long and detailed process requires great artistry, patience and precision. Therefore only experienced masters of the art are able to produce high quality pieces.

The pictures below give an idea of the work involved with the pietre dura process.
Also you can click on the following links to see a film of some of our highly skilled craftsmen at work. [windows media file 3.80 Mb or quicktime movie 4.08Mb]

The Ustad or Master Craftsman carefully plans a design, which is etched lightly into the marble surface and later scored out with an iron chisel. Many of the tools of the trade are basically the same as those used by the Mughals hundreds of years ago. He then decides on the colour scheme depending on the requirements of piece being created. Semi-precious stones and gems are expertly chosen to give just the right graduation in colour and shade for the overall radiance of the pattern. They are shaped and polished by means of an emery wheel. Sometimes heat treatment is applied to certain stones to get a shading effect.

The effort involved in making just one single flower can often take days of work, depending on the detail; it is not unusual to be designed from hundreds of different slices of stone. There are many varieties of coloured stone available for utilisation in marble inlay work: malachite, cornelian, jasper, mother of pearl, abalone shell, lapis lazuli, agnate, coral, turquoise and tiger eye to name just a few. The grooves are filled with their precisely corresponding shapes of coloured stone and secured in place with a white putty made from oil, lead oxide and wax. Once the design is completely dry, the piece is polished with a mixture of sand, water and emery paper to give a shiny smooth finish.

Ensuring that all our marble pieces are of the highest standard workmanship, the Ustad checks them thoroughly before they are found on display in our showroom or packaged carefully and on their way to you. Only the finest quality products are available at Agra Marble Emporium. And since honesty is our number one policy, this we will guarantee.


A Block No. 4 | Taj Nagri Phase - 2 | Fatehabad Road | Agra | 282001 | India | tel +91-562-2232321 | mob 0983-7009829 - justifiable web design 2007