Red Fort, Agra, India
In the distance you will probably recognise one of the most famous architectural creations in the world ...The Taj Mahal.
As I stand here as a Silk Merchant, to view this great wonder, I possibly stand in the very same spot that the Emperor Shah Jahan himself stood in his final days, under house arrest. After being deposed and imprisoned by his son in Agra Fort, he spent his last 8 years with this view from the window in his room to look directly across at the masterpiece that he commissioned...The Taj Mahal.
Planning commenced in 1632 and with the completed estimated cost in today's value, of nearly US$900 million, Jahan memorialised his great love for his third wife by building her this majestic resting place after her death.
In the construction and design of this marble and jeweled creation, over 20,000 artisans and craftsman were sourced from Persia, Europe and the Ottoman Empire and working for up to 20 years to complete. Over 1000 elephants were used to transport building materials including rare gems, gold, jasper, jade, crystal and marble from all spheres of The Silk Road, as far away as Arabia and China.
What started off as a memorial to a love story, ended according to myth and legend, in tragedy and betrayal. It is claimed that with the completion of The Taj Mahal, Shah Jahan, authorised mutilations, dismemberments and death of the artisans and architects employed to complete the Taj Mahal in an effort to deter any replication or recreation of the design and beauty crafted. What a price to pay for the skill and talent that these craftsman possessed!
How does love, creativity, artistry and beauty eventuate into death and tragedy? As we at The Silk Merchant travel, we are inspired not only by the beauty, the colour and the majesty, but also by the sacrifice and commitment to projects bigger than ourselves. While we celebrate the creation of our scarves and handbags and incorporate into our design, the colours and patterns that we experience along the way, we are reminded of the craftsmen and women throughout history that we have taken for granted, and what they may have sacrificed to contribute to the beauty and inspiration that we now enjoy. That is why, we at The Silk Merchant are committed to fostering the dying art of organic silk making. To underpinning and supporting this traditional craft that is thousands of years old and that originates from a simple silkworm into the creation and design of contemporary pieces of art.
All in the name of love, creativity and beauty.