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Peacock in the desert: Royal arts from Jodhpur on display at Houston museum

The exhibition titled ‘Peacock in the Desert:The Royal Arts of Jodhpur, India’ has been organised by the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH) in partnership with the Mehrangarh Museum Trust of Jodhpur.

lifestyle Updated: Mar 05, 2018 14:41 IST
Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India
Houston museum,Peacock in the Desert,Jodhpur
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH)(Shutterstock)

A treasure trove from India’s Rathore dynasty in Rajasthan, which includes exquisitely crafted arms and armour, jewels and intricately carved furnishings amassed over the centuries, was put on display at an exhibition here.

The exhibition titled ‘Peacock in the Desert: The Royal Arts of Jodhpur, India’, organised by the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH) in partnership with the Mehrangarh Museum Trust of Jodhpur, will be open to the public till August 12 before travelling to Seattle in the fall and then Toronto.

Through lavishly made ceremonial objects, finely crafted arms and armour, sumptuous jewels, intricately carved furnishings and more, the exhibition outlines the dynamic history of the Marwar-Jodhpur region and the Rathore dynasty that ruled it for over seven centuries.

Most of the 300 exquisitely detailed objects have never left India before. Many are signature possessions of the Mehrangarh Museum Trust, established in the early 1970s by His Highness GajSingh II, the current Maharaja of Marwar-Jodhpur, to protect treasures his ancestors commissioned from the 17th to the early-20th centuries.

Grand paintings, jewellery, weapons, devotional objects, room settings and vehicles, including a 1927 Rolls Royce Phantom and a 1940’s Stinson LF Sentinal airplane are arrayed across five galleries of the museum.

Digital renderings of palace walls and large projections enhance the viewing experience. The landmark show brings nearly four centuries’ worth of treasures from Jodhpur, India, to light, exploring the patronage of a single royal Indian house in depth for the first time.

The unique exhibits from Indian courtly life illuminate how the Rathores acquired and commissioned objects amidst cross-cultural exchanges to leverage patronage, diplomacy, matrimonial alliances, trade, and conquest.

Drawn primarily from the collections of the Mehrangarh Museum Trust and the private collections of the royal family of Jodhpur, the exhibition gives a rare peek into the riches of the maharajas and maharanis of the Rathore Dynasty. It is the first time these treasures have left their repository in India - a palace dating to 1459, now preserved by the Mehrangarh Museum Trust, which made the US tour possible.

“This is an opportunity to connect your children and grandchildren to their heritage,” Consul General of India Anupam Ray told Indian Americans here.

“There is no better way of engaging them to what is good, exciting and magical in India’s heritage.”

Gary Tinterow, MFAH director, SAID: “We are deeply honoured and grateful to be the first U.S. organization to present this show, and for the opportunity to provide visitors this unprecedented experience of India’s rich cultural history.”

The Rathores ruled one of the largest princely states in India for more than seven centuries, and their jaw-dropping wealth did not go unnoticed by other empires who eventually ruled India -- the Mughals and the British.

Visitors will learn more about the Rathore clan and its history, view a model of the Mehrangarh Fort, turbans worn by the desert community, and imagine royal life through pages of illuminated manuscripts.

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First Published: Mar 05, 2018 14:40 IST