Having grown up in Uttar Pradesh where there is a mix of Hindu and Muslim population, I used to see these niches in the walls in houses and courtyards. Some people would still light lamps/diyas in them towards the evening which is the purpose of these. To see the light reflecting inside them as the light of the God, that's what the narrative says when these niches evolved with time. How these elements of worship travelled from country to country and touched different religions and became what they are. There are lots of studies around these forms and how they have become so important in forts and palaces.
I have been curious to know more about them since I started making them in clay. These elements from Indo Islamic architecture are seen in most parts of India but they are now only limited to really old houses or houses that are already in ruins. I feel deeply drawn to these Wall niches and love making them in clay.
I have made this body of work in Gujarat with the potters of Kutch. The pottery cluster close to Mandvi paints these age old designs on their pots (there is no record as to how old these designs are as they are passed on from generation to generation). I found these walls niches in ruined houses in the potters village I was working in and thought there is no better place to revive them!
Stay tuned for more photos !