Museum Hours
Thu: 1 PM–8 PM
Fri–Mon: 10 AM–5 PM
Tue–Wed: Closed
200 Larkin Street
San Francisco, CA 94102
Talks and Lectures

Jali: Lattice of Divine Light, with Navina Najat Haidar

On-site at the museum


Navina Najat Haidar discusses jali, carved screens that ornament Mughal buildings

Buy Tickets

In this annual SACHI (Society for Art and Cultural Heritage of India) event, Navina Najat Haidar will discuss jali, an exquisitely carved stone or latticed screen, which is a feature of Mughal architecture. Usually crafted from sandstone or marble, jalis shape the atmosphere of sacred spaces, augment the grandeur of palaces, provide protection, and offer privacy within courtly settings. The ornamental patterns of Mughal jali screens draw on the compositional rhythms of arabesques and geometry to create extraordinary visual effects with filtered light in interior and exterior spaces. 

 This talk will explore the legacy of Mughal jalis, focusing on their symbolic meanings and styles under the dynamic patrons of the time, such as the saint Muhammad Ghaus, whose monumental tomb at Gwalior is a vision of dappled light in keeping with his mystical Sufi order; empress Nur Jahan’s innovative tomb for her parents at Agra; and Shah Jahan, who transformed the jali style from the language of celestial geometry into organic gardens of paradisiacal inspiration. Haidar will discuss modern jali patrons, including Americans Doris Duke and Stuart Cary Welch, and contemporary artists who reclaimed the style in new ways. Little-known sites as well as famous monuments will be presented with new photography. 


Navina Najat Haidar is Nasser Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah Curator in Charge of the Department of Islamic Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where she organized the exhibitions Workshop and Legacy: Stanley William Hayter, Krishna Reddy, Zarina Hashmi (2016); Art of India’s Deccan Sultans; 1500-1700, Opulence and Fantasy (2015); Treasures from India; and Gems and Jewels in the Al-Thani collection (2014). Haidar’s future projects include a book on the pierced window screen (jali) in Indo-Islamic architecture (forthcoming 2022).

Due to limited capacity, advance registration is recommended.

More to Explore