Although Indian royalty has in the past formed the subject of several exhibitions and publications, the emphasis of these have always been centred around the figure of the male ruler, or the Maharaja. As a counterpoint to these narratives, this exhibition and publication, brings to the limelight the fascinating women who populated a bygone glamorous era.
Functioning as documented history, the photographs in the exhibition point us towards the ways in which these women circumvented and reinvented the traditional, or embraced and reinvented the modern. Serving as windows into a time of great political and social change, they allow us to map the transforming modalities and conditions of the princely class, and its complex relationship with colonialism and the British Empire. Understanding the socio-historical significance of these photographs, thus, this exhibition approaches these women — alluring figures who sported chiffon sarees and exquisite jewellery, featured in Vogue lists and were touted as fashion icons — as voices from the past that history, and we, have seldom paid attention to.
In conjunction with the exhibition Tasveer is pleased to announce a new publication, produced in association with Mapin Publishing. The book includes several additional photographs, four original texts by K.G. Pramod, Amin Jaffer, Martand Singh & Shilpa Vijayakrishnan, and an introduction by Abhishek Poddar and Nathaniel Gaskell. The first significant volume of its kind — it offers a peek into the rich public and private lives of these women, and showcases a wonderful collection of photographs, never seen together before.