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Photograph - Ala-ood-deen's Gateway
  • Ala-ood-deen's Gateway
    Bourne, Samuel, born 1834 - died 1912
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Ala-ood-deen's Gateway

  • Object:

    Photograph

  • Place of origin:

    Delhi (photographed)

  • Date:

    1860s (photographed)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Bourne, Samuel, born 1834 - died 1912 (photographer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Albumen print from wet collodion glass negative

  • Museum number:

    53225

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This photograph shows a gateway into the extended Quwwat-ul-Islam mosque.
Known as the Alai Darwaza, it was built in 1311 by the Afgan ruler Alauddin Khalji. He had grand plans to extend the original mosque. Most of them were abandoned after his death in 1315, but this gateway is the most notable addition he made. It is 17.2 metres square.

The mosque and gateway are made out of rubble. It is the first of many Indian Islamic monuments to use a combination of white marble and red sandstone for the façade. Its distinctive features are the use of symmetry and the finely carved calligraphic and arabesque decoration on the southern façade of the gateway. This is also the first monument in which a true arch, using the radiating voussoir s shown here, is fully integrated into the design. The design is influenced by the architectural traditions of the empire of the Saljugs from western Asia.

The British photographer Samuel Bourne lived and worked in India between 1862 and 1869. During this time he toured the Himalayas and travelled through the subcontinent, photographing its landscape, architecture and historical sites. He set up a studio in Simla with Charles Shepherd and sold his prints sold to an eager public both in India and Britain.

Physical description

This photograph shows a gateway into the extended Quwwat-ul-Islam mosque.
It was built by the Afgan ruler Alauddin Khalji in 1311, as recorded on the inscriptions on the south, east and west arches. He had grand plans to extend the original mosque and though most of them were abandoned after his death in 1315, this gateway, known as the Alai Darwaza, is the most notable addition he made. It is 17.2 meters square.

The decoration on the sides and top of the arch are incomplete, and from the proportions of the remains they suggest that the original façade, particularly over the arch was higher than the present building. The white marble banding would have extended beyond the current parapet. It is likely that the straight parapet is part of the renovation undertaken by Major Robert Smith in 1829.

The photograph highlights the decorative elements of the building and the photographer has been careful to catch the light as it comes into the gateway so that it is possible to see the ornate carving inside the building through the archway.

Place of Origin

Delhi (photographed)

Date

1860s (photographed)

Artist/maker

Bourne, Samuel, born 1834 - died 1912 (photographer)

Materials and Techniques

Albumen print from wet collodion glass negative

Marks and inscriptions

Signature and negative number in bottom right hand side.

Dimensions

Width: 27.4 cm photograph, Height: 23 cm photograph, Width: 33 cm mount, Height: 26.6 cm mount

Object history note

The photograph was initially part of the photographic collection held in the National Art Library. The markings on the mount are an indication of the history of the object, its movement through the museum and the way in which it is categorised.
The mount is green and on the right hand side there is a label with the title.

Historical context note

This photograph shows a gateway into the extended Quwwat-ul-Islam mosque.
It was built by the Afgan ruler Alauddin Khalji in 1311, as recorded on the inscriptions on the south, east and west arches. He had grand plans to extend the original mosque and though most of them were abandoned after his death in 1315, this gateway, known as the Alai Darwaza, is the most notable addition he made. It is 17.2 meters square.

The building is made out of rubble and is the first of many Indo-Islamic monuments to use a combination of white marble and red sandstone for the façade. It is distinctive because of the use of symmetry and the finely carved calligraphic and arabesque decoration on this the southern façade. This is also the first monument in which a true arch, using radiating voussiors, is fully integrated into the design. The design is influenced by the architectural traditions of the empire of the Saljugs from western Asia.
Architects and artisans from western Asia found their way to Delhi after the break up of their empires and they bought with them architectural characteristics such as the ‘lotus bud’ fringe on the underside of the arch, perforated windows, arabesque low reliefs, ornamental spandrels, bands of inscription and use of red sandstone and marble.

The decoration on the sides and top of the arch are incomplete, and from the proportions of the remains they suggest that the original façade, particularly over the arch was higher than the present building. The white marble banding would have extended beyond the current parapet. It is likely that the straight parapet is part of the renovation undertaken by Major Robert Smith in 1829.

Bourne took this photograph on his journey through India during the 1860s. In the published account of his journey, on his first encounter with Delhi on June 25th 1863 he wrote: ‘Of course Delhi can’t fail to be interesting to the photographer: the Cashmere Gate, the fort, and other noted places must be taken, while its mosques and similar buildings will be photographed for their own merits. About eleven miles from Delhi is the famous Kootub, of which many of my readers have seen Beato’s large photograph, published by Hering, of Regent Street.’

Bourne, S, Photography in the East, The British Journal of Photography, September 1 1863, pg 345.

Descriptive line

Photograph of the Alai Darwaza or gateway of the Quwwat-ul-Islam mosque at the Qutb Minar complex, Delhi, India, by Samuel Bourne, 1860s.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Bourne, S, Photography in the East, The British Journal of Photography, September 1 1863, pg 345.

Production Note

Bourne visited Delhi in 1863, as mentioned in his writings. He is also likely to have made subsequent visits in 1864 and 1866 though this is not recorded in his writings. This print would have been made before March 1867.

Techniques

Wet collodion process

Subjects depicted

Gateway; Mosque

Categories

Photographs; Architecture; Islam

Collection

South & South East Asia Collection

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