The Taj Mahal: A Showcase of Exquisite Craft and Design


20,000 master craftsmen, 28 types of  precious stones, 1000 elephants, 20 years, eternal love. The Taj Mahal is not just India’s most widely recognised monument, it is indisputably amongst man’s most beautiful creations. Commissioned in 1632 by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan, the Taj houses the tomb of his beloved wife, Mumtaz Mahal.

A skilled workforce of twenty thousand masons, artists, architects, carpenters, jewellers, sculptors, mathematicians, engineers, brick layers and draftsmen are believed to have worked with the finest materials and gemstones to create its unparalleled beauty. It is said that a thousand elephants were used to transport translucent white marble from Rajasthan. Jade and crystal were imported from China, turquoise from Tibet, lapis lazuli from Afghanistan, sapphire from Sri Lanka and carnelian from Arabia.

The Taj is a showcase of the most sophisticated craft and design techniques, created by master craftsmen from all over Asia. Varana has reinterpreted this rich and diverse design vocabulary in its collection, retelling the story of an eternal love.

Graceful floral motifs, greatly favoured by Mughal royalty, decorate the many surfaces of the Taj. The Emperors were quite passionate about nature and it is probable that the stylised, repetitive style of flowers, fruits and vines was influenced by European herbalists present at their courts. These ‘flowers in stone’ inspire the floral motifs on our products, many of which are hand-embroidered with the Aari technique. The jewel-like hues of the pietre dura inlays are reflected in the vibrant colours of our bespoke silk jacquards.

The domes, floors, vaults and walls of the Taj are made of marble and worked with complex inlays to create exquisite grids, tessellations and patterns. Everywhere you look, from carved ceiling to paving stones, there are examples of masterful symmetry. You will see the floral grids of the Taj interpreted in our bespoke fabrics which have been block-printed by hand. The flawless geometry of the iconic monument is referenced through hand-crafted pintucks or tonal chevrons. By using the time-honoured crafts and design of the Taj as inspiration for our collection, we hope to connect our wearers with its romance and history.