Monday, October 24, 2011

Maharaja: The Splendor of India's Royal Courts.

 Baubles, bangles,
Hear how they jing, jing-a-ling-a,
Baubles, bangles,
Bright, shiny beads.
Sparkles, spangles,

The Asian Art Museum opened its doors to the dazzling world of India's legendary maharajas (Sanskrit word for "great kings") with the U.S. premiere of Maharaja: The Splendor of India's Royal Courts.

The exhibition, organized by the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, presents nearly 200 important artworks from the glittering world of India's rulers over three centuries.

 Maharaja is the first exhibition to comprehensively explore the world of the maharajas and their unique culture of artistic patronage. Maharaja is accompanied by an extensive schedule of public programming, including a film series featuring a guest appearance by esteemed producer James Ivory, live music and dance performances, artist demonstrations, multimedia and docent led tours, and more.

The show at the Asian is a dazzling display of conspicuous consumption. It should leave the thoughtful viewer with some serious questions - what is the role of religion in maintaining social order, how can a ruler justify living in such extreme luxury while the majority of his or her subjects live in abject poverty, what parallels are there between the conspicuous consumption of Indian royalty and our own society?
Full Review to come at the


Shaista said...

Looks utterly fabulous - the exhibitions at the Victoria and Albert are often extraordinary... Even the ones you see over and over again... I remember being enthralled by the jewels set into a dagger that belonged to Shah Jahan, and wondering to myself, what if guns today were lovely, delicate, works of art to be encased in museums, and only the abominably rich could afford them, would violence be softened? But of course not... Crude or beautiful, the intent behind the object is the violence, is it not?

namastenancy said...

That's a very astute comment. They had some other lethal weapons in the exhibit - one that was shaped like a bear claw and which I am sure inflicted enormous pain. Unfortunately for the average Indian, all these royal courts were very warlike and engaged in endemic warfare with each other. One good thing the British did was put an end to that as well as force the rulers to use some of their wealth for "little" things like roads, schools and hospitals