Origin Of the Art
The artistic tradition of inlay of gemstones on marble dates back to the 1500s when this art first made its appearance in Rome as “Pietra Dura”.
The Medici Grand Duke Ferdinando I of Tuscany founded the Galleria di’Lavori in 1588, today known as the Opificio delle Pietra Dura, for the purpose of developing art forms of his time.
This concept of cutting, shaping, polishing and setting gem stones and precious materials in marble came all the way to India in the 17th century, during the reign of Mughals.
However it reached its pinnacle only under Emperor Shah Jehan, who was an ardent patron of arts and architecture especially in white marble. In India this art came to be known as “Parchin Kari” a Persian term for hard stone inlay work.
The most illustrious example of this art without doubt is the Taj Mahal, one of the seven modern wonders of the world.
This white marble cenotaph erected by Emperor Shah Jehan to fulfill the last wishes of his most beloved wife Empress Mumtaz Mahal, is an exemplary model of fine Persian architecture and decorative arts of its time such as filigree work, stone relief work and above all “Parchin Kari” on the tombs and the walls.
During later years, which marked India’s struggle for freedom from the British Empire, this once flourishing art reached near extinction due to lack of patronage.
Marble Emporium: The essence of stone inlay art of Taj Mahal
The Art Gallery of Marble Emporium at Agra, founded in 1962, by Mr. Phool Chand Bansal, soon changed this scenario and proved to be a boon for the remaining few expert exponents of this art.
Today Marble Emporium is widely acclaimed for its efforts in the resurrection and promotion of this art on the world stage.
This success was achieved with the generous support of the Development Commission for Handicrafts of Government of India, and was duly acknowledged when the President of the Indian Republic conferred three consecutive National Awards upon Marble Emporium, from 1971 to 1973.
Brief History of Our Founder
Mr. Phool Chand Bansal who belonged to the affluent business family “BANSAL” of Agra left his father’s thriving business of commodity trading to follow his dream of resurrecting the rare art of Parchin Kari, which he long cherished from his childhood visits to the Taj Mahal.
He started the Gallery of Marble Emporium with enormous passion and zeal, and soon made it a haven for the greatest surviving master artists of “Parchin Kari” who had either abandoned this noble tradition to pursue popular professions of their times, or were living in abject poverty because of lack of appreciation for this art.
His third son Umesh Chand Bansal went on to formally study art and architectural decoration of Renaissance period and later on became one of the legendary artists of “Parchin Kari” and remains a folklore till date.
The designs executed by Umesh Chand Bansal, remain the best creations the art world has seen till date. Some of these modern masterpieces are displayed at the Company’s art gallery at Agra, which is visited by hundreds of art aficionado and tourists from all over the world, to draw inspiration and appreciate his creations.