Incised plaster is used as a form of ornamentation at Humayun's Tomb. Stated simply, a layer of plaster is applied to a surface and designs are carved away before the plaster cures.1 During the conservation of the incised plaster at Humayun's Tomb, after the plaster was carved and cured, some of the plaster was painted with red outlines.2 The ceiling muqarnas inside the tomb that looks like red nets that dip at the corners are actually muqarnas that is whitewashed with plaster and then outlined with incised plaster that is painted red.3 The red web of stellate muqarnas outlines applied to the ceilings of the plinth's grave niches is created with painted incised plaster that is then finished with a wash of lime plaster mixed with marble-dust to create a marble appearance.4
Incised plaster is also used to create medallions to decorate the spandrels inside the ancillary chambers inside Humayun's Tomb. These medallions are incised with radial stylized floral and geometrical patterns.
In Humayun's Garden Tomb, the West Gate and the South Gate also have incised plaster muqarnas outlines in the top of the exterior niches and balconies. In particular, in the two ground level niches on the South Gate's northern facade, there is an intricate elaboration of the stellate pattern carried out with the same red outlines on incised plaster that resembles the muqarnas pattern in the interior niches at the Timurid Gur-i Amir.5 The hammam's red spandrel pairs are joined by delicate white stylized flowers that appears to be formed with incised plaster since they are attached to the white blind arch underneath the spandrels and has its own form. It also appears that the kangura at the top of the baradari and the hammam may be at least partially formed by incised plaster.
1. Nizamuddin Urban Renewal Initiative - Aga Khan Development Network - A People Public - Private Partnership, "Annual Report 2013," accessed July 14, 2020. http://annualreport2016.nizamuddinrenewal.org/docs/Annual_Report_2013.pdf, 24.
3. "Conserving Humayun’s Tomb Main Hall 2009-11," accessed June 21, 2020, http://www.nizamuddinrenewal.org/conservation/humayun-tomb/data/main-hall.php. This is an image of the workers applying incised plaster to the cenotaph chambers muqarnas.
4. Nizamuddin Urban Renewal Initiative - Aga Khan Development Network - A People Public - Private Partnership, "Annual Report 2013," accessed July 14, 2020. http://annualreport2016.nizamuddinrenewal.org/docs/Annual_Report_2013.pdf, 24.
Robert Hillenbrand. "The Timurid Achievement in Architecture." In Islamic Period: From the End of the Sasanian Empire to the Present, edited by Abbas Daneshvari, 83-124. Vol. 18 of A Survey of Persian Art: From Prehistoric Times to the Present. Costa Mesa: Mazda Publishers, 2005.
Khan, Nisar. "Lime Stucco of Lucknow: Attributes, Issues, and Conservation." International Journal of Research and Analytical Reviews 6, no. 2 (2019): 936-41.
Maurya, Rahul. "A Brief History of Materials and Construction Techniques of Mughal Architecture." International Journal of Applied Research 4, no. 12 (2018): 75-78.
Nizamuddin Urban Renewal Initiative. "Conserving Humayun’s Tomb Main Hall 2009-11."
Nizamuddin Urban Renewal Initiative. "Lower Arcade Restoration 2010-13."
Nizamuddin Urban Renewal Initiative. "Humayun's Tomb Conservation." YouTube video, 11:38.