Between Meghan Markle's engagement to the most eligible bachelor in England and Netflix's binge-worthy The Crown (Did Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, really step out on Queen Elizabeth II?), there's a renewed American interest in the British royal family.
So perhaps it's time to cast that net a bit wider and look at another royal family, one with just as much drama, courtly machinations and bling as the House of Windsor. 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.
In 1460, the Rathores carved the Mehrangarh Fort into the imposing rocky terrain of Bhakurcheeria (mountain of birds), 410 feet above the city of Jodhpur, but not before burying a man alive to ensure prosperity and success. Each generation added its own touch, including the construction of several interior palaces and courtyards. Even Rudyard Kipling had
Today the fort serves as home to the Mehrangarh Museum Trust, established in 1972 by the current dynastic head of the Rathore clan, His Highness Maharaja Gaj Singh II, preserving the treasures from this important period in Indian history.
About 250 objects from the museum, along with contributions from the al-Sabah Collection, Kuwait, are coming to the United States for the first time ever in a traveling exhibit that makes its first stop at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, before moving on to Seattle and Toronto.
"Peacock in the Desert: The Royal Arts of Jodhpur, India" is divided into six sections. There's an area devoted to wedding traditions that features video projections of 20th-century weddings, horse
We'll learn more about the Rathore clan and its history, view a model of the Mehrangarh Fort (made of silver), turbans
When the Mughals arrived and eventually took over, the new empire engaged in political and military alliances, resulting in sabers, daggers
More armor is on view in "Durbar: The Rathore Court," although this section also highlights the incredible creativity of artists and craftsmen in the late 18th century through woven canopies, textiles, paintings and a gilded throne.
Visitors will experience the mysterious zenana, or women's wing, of the Rathore palace through paintings, carpets, screens, a magnificent pavilion
The last section of the exhibition, "The Raj," includes extravagant, large-scale objects influenced by the arrival of the British in 1818, including clothing, paintings
"Peacock in the Desert: The Royal Arts of Jodhpur, India," opens at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, on March 4 and is on view through August 12.
Concurrently on view is "Modernism on the Ganges: Raghubir Singh Photographs," a photographic exhibit of Indian life organized by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and on view through June 3.
The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 12:15 to 7 p.m. Sundays, 1001 Bissonnet, 713-639-7300, mfah.org, free to $23.
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