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Delhi: Qutb Minar

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CollectionsArthur Llewellyn Basham
Title: Delhi: Qutb Minar
Author(s): Photographer: Arthur Llewellyn Basham
Keywords: Delhi Sultanate;architecture
Series/Report no.: Basham Collection
Description: The Qutb Minar was a giant minaret, some 238 feet high, which was erected to serve as a memorial of victory and a watch tower. It was comprised of columns from Hindu temples destroyed by the Islamic forces and was the first product of totally Islamic builders working in India in the early years of Indo-Islamic art. It is important that at this point we discuss the significance of the 'decorative' division lines dividing the minaret into so-called 'stories,' we have seen this peculiarity on two previous monuments and have delayed further explanation until the same peculiarity appeared on the minaret in order to have the proper background illustration. The divisions are indeed 'decorative' in a primary sense, for they visually mark the stages of progressive verticality on the tower and give it an orderly appearance. More importantly, however, the divisions are symbolic of levels of holiness and were derived from pre-existing Buddhist or, even further back into its developmental history, from ancient Ethiopian monuments which bore the same division patterns and either represented spiritual levels or, in the case of the Buddhist application, levels of meditative enlightenment, such as that reached by the Buddha in his seven days of meditation beneath the Bodhi tree at Bodh Gaya. The Moslems incorporated the motif into their architecture from a very early date and, as we can see, with a different interpretation.
Other Identifiers: ANUA 682-1977


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