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Marble Inlay Craft

A traditional art form with just a few experts left, Marble inlay is a delicate process that involves cutting and engraving marble shapes by hand. Popularly recognized as the craft of Taj Mahal, it is usually done on white marble. Locally known as Pacchikari, this craft was introduced by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan, who brought specialists from Persia to train local artisans.

Apart from artifacts, inlay work is mainly used in architecture. Designs of semi-precious stones, like lapis lazuli, turquoise, malachite, onyx, mother-of-pearl, cornelian, etc. are inlaid on a marble surface. The artisans make compositions of tiny hand cut pieces of these stones. Hues and shades are selected to give detail and depth to the pattern. The outline of the design is marked on the surface to be inlaid, and the inlay area is shallow carved using a sharp chisel. Stone pieces are fixed into this area using adhesive and white cement. The design is fitted flush with the surface, leaving no visible gaps.

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