Marble Workers of Agra

Lapis lazuli, carnelian and malechite to be used in inlay work.

White marble deposits of the same kind as were used in the Taj Mahal’s construction are still abundant in this area. I stopped to buy a few souvenirs and learn how marble inlay was done.

The work is done with extreme attention to detail. Placement of the designs on the marble pieces is not done freehand. I saw the man in the white cap at one point using a protractor to place the designs on the piece he is working on.

The marble is first painted with a temporary orange stain so that the designs can be seen when they are traced onto the piece. The workers painstakingly gouge out the places where the inlay goes. Indian marble is extremely hard. The work is difficult and time consuming.

Despite the amount of time it takes to create these pieces, labor is cheap in India. The cost of these works of art are determined more by how much inlaid work is done on the piece. Only precious or semiprecious stone is used as inlay.

To commemorate my visit, I chose a few small marble pieces. In the bottle is a soil sample taken from the gardens at the Taj Mahal. The small stones are from the Bada Bagh cenotaph garden at Jaisalmer.


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