A jali is a perforated stone or latticed screen, with ornamental patterns that draw on

the compositional rhythms of geometry and calligraphy. In the parts of India, western

Asia and the Mediterranean where solar rays are strongest and brightest, ustads (or

master artisans) were able to evolve an aesthetic language of light, giving it form and

shape through lattices of stone and other materials. Jalis share a common aim of

bringing filtered light into enclosed spaces, while providing protection and privacy.

Additionally, they shape the atmosphere of a sacred space, augment the grandeur of

palaces and enhance the charm of domestic interiors.

This book explores the delicate beauty of more than two hundred jalis across

India, from seventeenth-century examples in Agra to those designed by global

contemporary artists influenced by historical styles. The expansive volume covers

the temple-inspired designs of the Gujarat Sultanate, imperial symbolism and Sufi

allusions in Mughal jalis, the innovations and adaptations of jalis across Rajasthan

and central India and, further south, calligraphy in pierced stone in the Deccan.

With contributions by American art historian Mitchell Abdul Karim Crites, George

Michell, an authority on South Asian architecture, and Ebba Koch, a leading authority

on Mughal architecture and art, and Afterword by film director James Ivory, this

lavishly illustrated publication reveals the poetry etched in these stone screens.

Navina Najat Haidar is Nasser Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah Curator-in-Charge of the

Department of Islamic Art at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Mitchell

Abdul Karim Crites is an American art historian, who has lived and worked in India

for more than forty years. George Michell, an authority on South Asian architecture,

has made the study of Deccani architecture and archaeology his life’s work. Ebba

Koch, art and architectural historian, is Professor Emerita at the Institute of Art

History, University of Vienna, Austria, and was a senior researcher at the Austrian

Academy of Sciences. James Ivory, Oscar-winning film director, writer and artist,

has made several films with Ismail Merchant and Ruth Praver Jhabvala as part

of Merchant-Ivory productions. He has travelled and photographed extensively

in India. Abhinav Goswami, based in Vrindavan, is trained as an archaeologist,

photographer and temple priest.