From the Land of the Rajas: Creativity in Rajasthan
Anyone who has ever been to Rajasthan … will remember the great splashes of color and design all over the walls of houses. As if to compensate for the drabness and monotony of the surrounding desert landscape, the Rajasthanis also wear brilliantly colored turbans and clothes that, in one painter’s words, “pull at the eyes.”
—Renaldo Maduro, 1976
Rajasthan, a state in northwestern India, is famed for its colorful and distinctive art styles. For centuries, its princely rulers (rajputs, or “sons of kings”) have encouraged a wide range of arts. Rajasthani arts are distinguished by a complex interplay between court and village traditions, especially evident in those used in ritual performances. The exhibition focuses on festival and religious arts, especially those concerned with pictorial narrative.
From the Land of the Rajas explores how and why this art was made by considering the social and cultural contexts of visual artistry in Rajasthan. In this exhibition, about 150 objects are arranged according to a combination of form and function, reflecting how different kinds of objects are used and seen in different settings: the home, field, fair, theater, temple, shrine, market, and court.
We invite the visitor to discover some of the spectacular ritual arts of an Indian region more famed for its tradition of court painting, and to learn more about their original meanings to the people of Rajasthan.