In the first place, I consider it necessary to explain a few things about the script to enable the reader to separate historical facts from literary fiction.
There is plenty of documentation about the India of the Mughals; there is equally no dearth of information about the Taj Mahal. We know many details about Shah Jahan's life and the reasons that made him build such an amazing mausoleum. We know many technical data about the buildings, the materials that were used, the names of many people who worked there, and even the salaries they received.
However, we do not have a name for the author of the Taj Mahal, the name of an architect who would own the responsibility for the whole project. The imperial works were entrusted to teams of architects controlled by nobles chosen by Shah Jahan. Some were experts in the construction of domes, some others in the foundations. In this way different works were entrusted to different specialist who were grouped in teams.
The name of Ustad Isa appears qualified as "designer" or "draftsman" of the Taj. Nevertheless, historical data have not been able to clearly decide the amount of his responsibility. He deserved the title of "Marvel of the Times", granted by the Emperor to outstanding artists and artisans, and his name is associated with many projects undertaken during Shah Jahan's life, such as his imperial city of Shahjahanabad.
This, and his Turkish or Persian origin, is all we know about Ustad Isa. Consequently, in this comic book all the data about the Mughal dynasty and the lives of Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal are derived from historical sources, but the story about Ustad Isa and Parvati's romance belongs to the realm of pure literary fiction; a fictions that was created with the purpose of explaining the magical and inexplicable attraction of the Taj.
This enchanting halo that radiates from the mausoleum has often associated the building with several legends. One of the most recurrent, which has been even presented as historical, is the legend of the two Tajs, the white and the black. It is plausible that Shah Jahan would have wished it so, but there is no documented testimony to prove it.
Documentation about Mughal India is, indeed, like a flowery and fertile garden. There are plenty of miniatures that recreate the life of the emperors and even of their subjects. In fact, there are so many of them and so beautiful, that we are able to reproduce with a considerable degree of authenticity the scenery of Mughal India during the 17th century.
We have tried to make a historical comic book, accurate as well as enjoyable, that would both entertain and inform by presenting the fascinating circumstances that surrounded the construction of this wonderful mausoleum. Usually comic books are exclusively meant for them. On the contrary, it has been mainly conceived for an adult reader, one who is able to enjoy the richness of this historical period and the architecture and art that it produced, and who is also capable of enjoying a romantic story full of love and sorrow.
This is also the place for acknowledgements. I must first mention Alvaro Enterria. He is not only the enterprising publisher who has made possible for this book to finally find its way into your hands, but he has also contributed in the making of the script with many valuable and penetrating insights.
Eduardo de la Torre, comrade in arms, is also the co-author of the graphic part.
My gratitude to Sheikh Salim Chisti, who provided me with the devotional support that I need when I get involved in life's ventures.
And thanks to Shah Jahan, who presented this temple to love and pain to humanity.
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