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Peacock in the Desert: The Royal Arts of Jodhpur, India

Peacock in the Desert: The Royal Arts of Jodhpur, India

Peacock in the Desert: The Royal Arts of Jodhpur, India, an exhibit with artifacts dating back to the Mughal era, has made its way to the United States for the first time. A groundbreaking collaboration, between the Museum of Fine Arts Houston and the Mehrangarh Museum Trust of Jodhpur, brought the world a sneak peek into the lavish jewels, furnishings, ceremonial pieces, and intricacies belonging to this era.

When we think of India, we think of the bright colors, the bold rich textures, and the dripping layers of gold and stone jewelry. This collection provides an insight into timeless and historical pieces belonging to the Marwar-Jodhpur region. Preserved through the years by the Rathore Dynasty, the artifacts are taking their first-ever pilgrimage outside of Jodphur. The Rathore Dynasty that protected these objects, dates back to the 15th century, when Hindu warriors and kings (Kshatriyas) ruled as a military stronghold from 1459 onwards. During this time, the royal families built their grand collections through cross-cultural exchanges, diplomacy, matrimonial alliances, trade, and conquest. More than 250 artifacts belonging to the traveling exhibit have been housed for centuries in what is known as the Fort in Jodhpur. English journalist Rudyard Kipling described the Fort, which serves as the elite residence to the Rathore lineage and center of cultural patronage, as “a palace that might have been built by Titans and colored by the morning sun.” This home housed treasured paintings, decorative wall and art pieces, tapestries, weapons, and carpets. The rich textiles that made up much of the culture during this time will be present in the exhibit, organized along three main themes: Interconnections – the relationships between people, places, and things of the era; the role of women and artisans – the traditional take on gender roles and women employment; and lastly, the royal patronage and the continuity of tradition – royal families and preservation of culture.

“We are deeply honored 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,” says MFAH director, Gary Tinterow. The exhibition will be on view at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, from March 4th to August 12th, 2018, before continuing on to the Seattle Art Museum, and then to the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, Canada.

Peacock in the Desert: The Royal Arts of Jodhpur, India is organized by the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, in collaboration with Mehrangarh Museum Trust, Jodhpur, India. Generous support for this exhibition is provided by: Nidhika and Pershant Mehta; Medha and Shashank Karve; Mrs. Sushila and Dr. Durga D. Agrawal; Milton D. Rosenau, Jr. and Dr. Ellen R. Gritz; and Mr. and Mrs. Paul S. Likhari.

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