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Multani mitti is being used to beautify Taj Mahal: Report

Multani mitti is being used to beautify Taj Mahal: Report

Author: Press Trust of India
Publication: The Hindustan Times
Date: December 8, 2002

Archaeologists at world-famous Taj Mahal in Agra have found a formula to save the marble monument from the corrosive effects of industrial pollution - Multani mitti, an ancient face-pack recipe consisting of soil, cereal, milk and lime.

The sticky brown mixture, once used by Indian women to beautify their skin, is smeared on the smut-stained marble surfaces of the 17th-century Mogul tomb and washed off with warm water after 24 hours.

The formula, based on a method discovered in a 16th century Mogul journal Ain-I-Akbary, has proved to have such restorative qualities that it is now being exported to Italy to clean grimy monuments there, a report in The Sunday Telegraph said today.

The archaeologists at Taj Mahal found that the substance, known as Multani mitti, drew black and yellow impurities from the Taj's marble and left its surface gleaming white for the first time in decades.

Scientists from a Rome institute specialising in the study of building preservation travelled to Agra to see the process for themselves.

They are now developing similar "face packs" to treat blackened marble statues in Rome and Florence, the report said.

The mixture has so far been used to clean interiors of Taj Mahal as well as parts of the gateway and the four surrounding minarets. Work will soon start on the main structure's outer surfaces.

It will cost less than 100,000 pounds to clean the entire Taj Mahal, the report said quoting officials. More "We have analysed the marble and feel quite happy now that it is withstanding pollution," he said.

"This breakthrough has attracted attention from other archaeologists looking for ways to preserve their monuments."

Multani mitti - which means 'mud from Multan', an area now in Pakistan where the lime-rich clay was originally found - was used for thousands of years as a face-pack until the advent of bottled lotions.

According to the report, archaeologists hit upon the idea of using the mud-pack when examining ancient records of Indian buildings.

They discovered that in the 16th century it was common to use a mud mixture to clean and preserve marble. There was no record of the recipe, so they adapted the formula for Multani mitti.

The mud, brushed on in layers until it is an inch deep, draws out the polluting sulphates and carbonates.

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