Eastern Uttar Pradesh has rich deposits of beautiful soft stone and it has spawned a sizeable stone-carving industry, the main centre for which is Varanasi where stone-carving artisans belong to a community called the raidas. The main products produced here are table ware, plates, glasses, bowls, food-containers, and candle stands. Power operated machines are used and the stone is many hued with a lovely red shade. The articles are simple, but well made.
The Taj Mahal represents the highest glory of artistry in inlaid work in the 16th and 17th century. The art involved carving out floral and geometrical patterns on the creamy-white marble surface. Agra's flourishing industry draws inspiration from the Taj Mahal. Miniature models of the Taj Mahal are made in abundance. Other items which are popular include vases, boxes, lamps, plates, bowls, and pitchers that combine delicately moulded shapes, fine carving, and exquisite decorations set off sometimes by perforated traceries revealing subtle designs.
The mosaics are incomparable: the milky-white background surface highlights the numerous coloured stones. The design patterns used are mostly foliage and floral motifs intertwined with geometrical patterns. The typical Mughal influence is seen in the flow of lines and the refined taste, reminiscent of damascening. Originally, precious stones were used in the mosaics, but today semi-precious stones are used. The wide selection of articles made out of mosaic-marble includes household articles like jewellery, trinket and powder boxes, trays, and tableware; the furniture items include settees with latticed backs, armchairs, table tops and panels.
Vrindavan, near Mathura, gets its marble from Rajasthan, black stone from Bihar, green stone from Madhya Pradesh and so on. Some of the items are embossed with semi-precious stones or cheaper synthetic gems. Since this place is closely associated with Lord Krishna, a lot of his images are made. A dark-brown stone with yellow spots called sange-rathek is found in Jhansi and its surrounding areas from which lamp-shades, incense-stick stands, and small medicine-grinders are made.
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