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Qutab Minar in Delhi

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These are the stone screens (or arches) at Qutab Minar in Delhi, India. They were built by Qutbuddin Aibak, the first sultan in the Mamluk or Slave Dynasty, who reigned from 1206-1210. It’s called the Slave Dynasty because the sultans, including Aibak, were slaves prior to becoming sultans. Aibak only ruled for 4 years. He ended up dying during a polo match when his horse fell and the saddle impaled him! He also built the Quwwat-ul-Islam mosque at the Qutab Minar and started the Minar itself.

These are giant (16 m high) stone arches that are intricately carved in patterns. Aibak (and the other Mamluk Dynasty sultans) was a Muslim and wanted these decorated in an Islamic style. However, the craftsmen working on them were Hindus and had no experience with carving more Islamic designs. These arches were more flowing, with lots of curves, vines, and elements of nature. Iltumish, a later sultan, brought in carvers from Iran when he expanded the arches, so that the designs would be Islamic (meaning more geometric) rather than Hindu in nature. Later, Alauddin planned to build even more arches, but never finished them.

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