Since the Mughal era, the craft of pietra dura has been practiced in Agra and it remains one of the city’s leading commercial commodities. The craft involves the cutting and fitting of colorful polished stones to be assembled as inlay for marble tabletops, jewelry boxes, coasters, plates and other decorative items. Following the excursion to the Taj Mahal we headed to Akbar International, a leading manufacturer in the industry.
The craftsmen cut and shape each individual stone and then lay each piece in place to construct the inlay. Notice the temporary peach coloring of the marbletop, used for contrast while fitting the pieces in place.
A sales representative explains how the interlocking stone pieces of the inlay are held in place. Glue is used sparingly and the mixture is a closely guarded trade secret.
The work is painstaking as the individual stone pieces vary in size and shape, and the fit must be precise. Crafting pieces for curved marble surfaces is particularly challenging.
The salesroom featured an endless variety of everything from large tabletops to tea coasters to ornamental elephants. If I'd been blessed by Lakshmi there's no telling how much money I would have dropped here.
The pieces vary in price according to the complexity of each design. Just look at the assortment of tiny stone pieces this artisan has produced, as he completes the inlay.
I exited the building a little before the rest of the group so I wouldn’t be tempted to spend money! I’m glad I did because as I stood outside I saw a camel coming down the road, something I’d seen several times during various bus trips, and I had been wanting to capture some footage.