By the time we got to Jodphur during my fall trip to India, I wasn’t feeling too well, and the only thing I wanted to do was go to bed. That meant I missed most of what the Blue City had to offer. Little did I know that I would get a second chance to experience its wonders at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston.
Peacock in the Desert is an exhibit representing centuries of royal treasures never seen before outside palace walls. What they represent is the history of the Rathores who are still Jodphur’s royal family. This incredible exhibit reminded me of so many things I learned and loved during my travels in Rajasthan.
The lavish life of the maharajas made such an impression. Whether they were transported by elaborately adorned elephants,
born in splendid palanquins
or driven in a Rolls Royce theirs appeared to be a pampered lifestyle.
Royal wealth and power were often depicted in art. A maharaja was regarded in so many ways: a warrior and diplomat, a connoisseur of the arts and material pleasures.
The material pleasures were many be they weapons or beautifully cast pieces of gold and silver.
On the trip, I was very curious about the role of women so it was interesting to study the exhibit in this context. In the royal environment, women appeared to have a good life. They often maintained personal shrines, such as this one dedicated to Krishna, where daily worship rituals were conducted.
Royal women had baradaris, a pavilion that could be taken apart and transported from place to place for festivals, game playing or formal state occasions. It struck me as fun to have a traveling entertainment center!
Then as now, women seem to be drawn to sparkle and adorned themselves with bangles and colorful and bejeweled clothing.
What they received for their dowries wasn’t bad either!
Throughout the exhibit were wonderful paintings that brought back memories of the intricate and detailed pieces that were observed throughout Rajasthan.
So small are some of the images that one has to look closely in order not to miss them as in this hunting scene.
I loved this piece not only for its detail and color but for the peacock in the clouds which seemed an early reference to flight.
For the boys in the family, I bought turbans so I was quite drawn to this colorful wall of turbans which taught something new. A turban represents pride and valor. Though made from similar materials, each unique style identifies community.
There was so much to see in Peacock in the Desert, perhaps more than I would have had opportunity to view in Jodphur so spending several hours roaming the space at the museum was a wonderful experience. When I saw the model of the palace where the royal family lives today, I was somewhat blown away wondering how if would be possible to care for so many rooms.
i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind