The Mughals came from Fergana, Uzbekistan and settled in Delhi, India. A distinctive style emerged from this cultural osmosis, and a syncretic composite of Indian, Persian and Central Asian influences found expression in art and architecture. Mughal buildings include the Taj Mahal and the Red Fort. A common trait are screens carved out of stone. In fact, several Indian architectural structures from the era will have used the system of puncturing patterns into stone to both decorate and ventilate a building naturally. The perforated stone or latticed screens serve the dual purpose of blinds and windows. The characteristic crisscross patterns, also known as jaali, pronounced as jaa lee, decompress the air and lower temperatures to a considerable degree. There is a reason to believe that queens preferred such jaali-s or screens since it kept their chambers cool and airy through the day.
In 2019, architecture has no time or patience for such details. Also, with no patronage, this historic art form finds it difficult to sustain itself. The slow process, the level of detail and the traditional systems present challenges. For instance, the SmartHug Elephant is made of a single block of wood from the bur flower tree. Within the carving is another sculpture of a smaller elephant. Each one takes time and patience. While different cultures perceive the elephant as a sign of serenity, power, and wisdom. For SmartHug, the Mughal Elephant is history, imagination, and emotion.
SmartHug is a Benefit Corporation which works with people for a positive impact on the community and the environment. SmartHug is concerned about losing indigenous art forms and practices and supports slow-production methods. Inspired by the families who embrace jaali art as a calling, the Wood Elephant Series is a reminder to protect the animal as well as the artist.
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