For our prompt of “Monument,” today I had very little time to sketch, so it’s anyone’s guess really why I would choose something as complex as the Taj Mahal. But, I think this is a beautiful structure and though it likely deserves more time and attention to detail, it was a joy to create a quick doodlewash version. And, its story is equally intriguing as well. It was commissioned by Mughul emperor Shah Jahan after losing his beloved wife, Mumtaz Mahal. This was the name Shah Jahan gave her as it meant “chosen one of the palace.” She would end up giving birth to fourteenth children, but only seven managed to live past infancy. During the birth of the fourteenth child, all seemed well at first, but it was soon discovered that Mumtaz Mahal was dying. Though he rushed to her side in those final hours, she would not survive, and died in his arms. Overwhelmed with grief Shah Jahan resigned to be alone and cried for eight days . Yet in the days that followed a plan was formed. In honor of the love of his life, he would construct the Taj Mahal, meaning “the crown of the region” and it would represent heaven on Earth. Though many love stories become simply bits of folklore, this story has survived centuries and left behind one of the world’s most iconic monuments.
While yes, very few people today possess the means anymore to create such an elaborate and expensive love letter, it’s still an intriguing story. It makes me think of the love of my own life and how I should always hold that love close and never take a moment for granted. Well, I should say loves, of course, as my dog Phineas would be rather irritated if he wasn’t included. And truly, my family and friends are dear to me so I have to include them all. It’s wonderful to have a life filled with love, but truly a bit magical when you have that one special someone. What makes romantic love seem a bit more special is because it comes with the least plausible reason as to why it should even exist in the first place. It’s not a love that’s formed over time, but one that just suddenly presents itself as though it’s been there all along. That’s why stories of romantic love are so endlessly fascinating. They’re stories we truly can’t believe, but eagerly want to believe at the same time. And when they happen to us, we’re no better off in understanding it at all, which only serves to make the feeling even more miraculous. And makes those silly imperfections of life feel almost perfect somehow.
So, yes, beyond being one of the world’s most unashamed optimists, I’m also a romantic at heart. I have to believe that love isn’t some sort of of perk we have in life, but indeed the very thing that gives a bit of meaning to life itself. When I find myself in a state of confusion or feeling a bit down, I need only concentrate on the people I have in my life who adore me no matter what. And, in those moments, I realize, if I had nothing else, I’d be perfectly fine. Of course, I don’t stop wanting everything else, that would be perfectly insane, but I no longer feel like it’s necessary. Knowing the difference between what I only want and what I actually need has been a wonderful aspect of the journey of growing older. I’m not sure if anything I’ve learned yet counts as wisdom, as that seems a bit lofty and something only reserved for owls. But what I DO know is that I’m incredibly happy now. Even when life doesn’t go in the direction I wished it would. I never worry or stress over things these days. Life has a way of sorting itself out. And true affection has a way of showing us all that every little thing we do in the moments that we have are the perfect building blocks in creating a monument to love.
About the Doodlewash
Da Vinci Paint Co.: Yellow Ochre, Leaf Green, Vermilion, Quinacridone Red, Cobalt Turquoise, Cobalt Blue, and Terra Cotta. Lamy Al-Star Safari Fountain Pen with black ink in an A5 Hahnemühle Watercolour Book. Want to purchase a print of this doodlewash? Send me a note with a link to this post, and I’ll add it to my shop!
Creator of Doodlewash®, founder of World Watercolor Month (July), World Watercolor Group™, and host of the Sketching Stuff Podcast. Sharing daily watercolor illustrations and stories while proudly featuring talented artists from all over the world! If you’d like to be a guest artist on Doodlewash.com, contact me!