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Mughal Suite

The Mughal Suite is located at the end of a private hall extending from the central courtyard.

Syrian Room

The Syrian Room is one of Shangri La’s most cohesive spaces: a period room created for posterity, echoing those found in a number of other museums.

Damascus Room

The Damascus Room is a highlight of the Islamic art collection assembled by Doris Duke (1912–93) and is one of two Syrian interiors preserved at Shangri La.

Entry Courtyard

Visitors to Shangri La descend a long driveway shielded by dense foliage and first encounter the main house from within an open-air space known variously as the entry or banyan courtyard.

Foyer

The foyer is the first room that visitors enter in the main house, and it provides an introduction to Doris Duke (1912–93) as a collector and patron, to the visual language of Islamic art, and to the experience of Islamic art that Shangri La offers.

Central Courtyard

The main house at Shangri La revolves around a central courtyard, an architectural feature central to a number of buildings in the Islamic world.

Living Room

The living room preserves a number of important works of art from North Africa and Spain.

Mihrab Room

The Mihrab Room preserves a number of masterpieces in the DDFIA collection, particularly architectural tilework produced during the Ilkhanid period (1226–1353).

Dining Room

The dining room is Doris Duke’s (1912–93) interpretation of an Islamic-style tent.

Playhouse

Located on the west end of the property and adjacent to the ocean, the Playhouse at Shangri La is a poolside pavilion inspired by the Chehel Sutun (c. 1647–50) palace in Isfahan, the capital of Iran from 1598 to 1722. 

Mughal Garden

The Mughal Garden is Shangri La’s microcosm of the royal gardens found throughout the Indian subcontinent. 

Private Hall

The private hall is located off the central courtyard and terminates in the Mughal Suite.

Mughal Suite

The Mughal Suite is located at the end of a private hall extending from the central courtyard.

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Exterior of the Mughal Suite at Shangri La. © 2014, Linny Morris, courtesy of the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art, Honolulu, Hawai'i.

Entrance to the Mughal Suite at Shangri La. © 2014, Linny Morris, courtesy of the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art, Honolulu, Hawai'i.

Perforated jali screen at the entrance to the Mughal Suite bedroom. (Photo: Tim Street-Porter, 2011.)

Mughal Suite bedroom after preservation work in 2014. © 2014, Linny Morris, courtesy of the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art, Honolulu, Hawai'i.

Jewelry and artifacts on display in the Mughal Suite bedroom. © 2014, Linny Morris, courtesy of the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art, Honolulu, Hawai'i.

Vitrine in the Mughal Suite at Shangri La displays 18-19th century Indian jewelry, jades and enamels. © 2014, Linny Morris, courtesy of the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art, Honolulu, Hawai'i.

Mughal Suite dressing room with vaulted, mirrored ceiling. © 2014, Linny Morris, courtesy of the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art, Honolulu, Hawai'i.

Mirrored ceiling and copper ceiling lamp in the Mughal Suite dressing room. © 2014, Linny Morris, courtesy of the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art, Honolulu, Hawai'i.

Bathroom of the Mughal Suite featuring marble wall panels and floor with inlaid stone. © 2014, Linny Morris, courtesy of the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art, Honolulu, Hawai'i.

Jali in the Mughal Suite bathroom. (Photo: Tim Street-Porter, 2011.)

Jali screen open to ocean views. © 2014, Linny Morris, courtesy of the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art, Honolulu, Hawai'i.

The Mughal Suite is located at the end of a private hall extending from the central courtyard and includes a bedroom, large dressing area, bathroom, seating area composed of marble screens on the rooftop above (the Jali Pavilion), and private garden. Appropriately, it is located next to the Mughal Garden, a space equally inspired by Doris Duke’s (1912–93) travels in the Indian subcontinent.

The history of the Mughal Suite predates the history of Shangri La. During her 1935 honeymoon travels in India, Duke became enamored by Mughal art, particularly architecture dating to the reign of India’s three “great” emperors, Akbar (r. 1556–1605), Jahangir (r. 1605–27), and Shah Jahan (r. 1628–58). After visiting the marble tombs, palaces, mosques and gardens of cities like Agra and Delhi, Duke decided to create a Mughal-inspired bedroom suite for her home, which was then planned to be a newlywed wing on the grounds of El Mirasol, the Palm Beach home of her mother-in-law Eva Stotesbury. The Cromwells (Doris Duke and her husband James Cromwell) soon enlisted the Delhi-based British architect Francis B. Blomfield to oversee the creation of a marble suite inspired by seventeenth-century Mughal monuments, including the Taj Mahal (from 1632) in Agra and the Red Fort (1639–48) in Delhi. The actual marble work—including seven large door jalis (perforated marble screens) for the bedroom and four small window jalis and a dado (lower wall) with inlaid floral patterns for the bathroom, among other things—was sub-contracted to the India Marble Works firm in Agra, with Blomfield serving as chief designer and quality control.

In August 1935, the Cromwells arrived in Hawai‘i and soon thereafter abandoned the idea of living in Palm Beach in favor of building a new home on the southern shore of O‘ahu. The marble commission was well underway by this point, but its plans were readily transferrable to the Hawaiian context. The suite was completed in late 1938, and the Cromwells moved in on Christmas Day of that year. By that time, they had acquired a number of furnishings for the space, including inlaid mother-of-pearl Syrian chests (65.46) and tables; Roman- and Islamic-period Syrian glass (47.117); Persian-style figural paintings (11.1.1); and Central Asian embroideries, which served as bed quilts, pillow cases and wall coverings. Much of this material had been purchased during the Cromwells’ 1935 honeymoon and later during their 1938 Middle East tour. In ensuing years, the bedroom would become increasingly Indian in appearance, as Duke acquired a number of Indian textiles and carpets (81.12) whose red surfaces beautifully complemented the white marblework commissioned in 1935.

The history of the Mughal Suite underscores the importance of travel and patronage in the evolution of Shangri La. It was during her honeymoon trip that Duke first fell in love with Mughal architecture—and by extension Islamic art in general (the honeymoon also included brief visits to Jordan and Egypt). After realizing that the commissioned Mughal Suite would form the nucleus of their Hawaiian home, the Cromwells seem to have resolved to “Islamicize” the property as a whole and fill it with Islamic art collections. As early as January 1937, they began exploring Iranian architectural models, particularly those associated with the city of Isfahan. That May, they embarked on a week-long trip to Morocco, and the result was a second major act of patronage (the ordering of custom-made plaster and wood elements for the foyer and living room). By the time the Cromwells moved into the Mughal Suite in December 1938, Shangri La featured distinctly Indian, Moroccan, and Iranian architectural spaces, as well as furnishings and works of art from Central Asia, Egypt, Iran and Syria, among other places.    

Historical Images

Construction of the Mughal Suite, July 6, 1937. Shangri La Historical Archives, Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art, Honolulu, Hawai'i. Construction of the Mughal Suite, July 27, 1937. Shangri La Historical Archives, Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art, Honolulu, Hawai'i. The Mughal Suite bedroom, with its original fireplace, 1938. Shangri La Historical Archives, Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art, Honolulu, Hawai'i. Mughal Suite bedroom, March–April 1939. Shangri La Historical Archives, Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art, Honolulu, Hawai'i. Jali window (41.51.2) in the Mughal Suite bathroom, July–August 1946. Doris Duke Photograph Collection, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation Historical Archives, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University. A Mughal-style fireplace was installed in 1972. Shangri La Historical Archives, Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art, Honolulu, Hawai'i. Mughal Suite bedroom, 1999. Vitrines in the north and west walls were installed sometime before 1974. Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art, Honolulu, Hawai'i. (Photo: David Franzen, 1999.) Mughal Suite bedroom, 1999. Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art, Honolulu, Hawai'i. (Photo: David Franzen, 1999.) Mughal-style fireplace, installed in 1972. (Photo: Tim Street-Porter, 2011.) Mughal Suite dressing room with an Iranian-inspired ceiling. (Photo: Tim Street-Porter, 2011.)
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Available on this website:

News Release: Doris Duke's Mughal Indian-inspired bedroom-and-bathroom suite at Shangri La opens to the public for the first time this October. September 12, 2014.  

Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art, “Commissions and Recreations, 1935–1938,” Collection Highlights, Shangri La: A Center for Islamic Arts and Cultures, November 2012.

Thalia Kennedy, “Doris Duke and Gandhi: Revitalizing Craft Tradition and the Mughal Suite at Shangri La,” Shangri La Working Papers in Islamic Art, no. 3 (July 2012): 1-32.

Thalia Kennedy, “A Meeting with the Mahatma,” The Door to Shangri La, January 10, 2012.

Other resources:

Life and Art in the Mughal Court,” Victoria and Albert Museum.

The Age of the Mughals,” Victoria and Albert Museum.

Damascus Room
Private Hall
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