Elephant Howdah Gallery
The room on the southern side of Shringar Chowk, is now a hauda khana with a display of 18th and 19th century howdahs (seats for riding on the elephants) decorated with some fine silver repousse work.
This gallery displays fine examples of elephant seats from the Royal Collection, which is regarded as the finest in the country. A priceless and unique historical Howdah is the silver one presented to the Maharaja Jaswant Singh I (1638-78) by the Mughal Emperor Shahjahan, as a mark of special honor.
This gallery displays one of the richest collections of palanquins in Rajasthan. On display are palanquins for ladies as well as men; covered palanquins were used for the ladies and the open ones for men. Pinjas, the covered palanquin is an exquisite piece of craftsmanship. It is beautifully decorated with lacquer paintwork. Rajat Khasa, the beautiful lotus shaped royal silver palanquin used by the Maharajas is another fine piece of art. The palki designed for a woman in purdah, with a red and silver striped velvet covering, and carrying poles that terminate in elephant heads; and the palki fitted with a European style chair are noteworthy.
Daulat Khana Gallery
Daulat khana gallery is a three storey building with arched openings on all levels. Built in early 18th century by Ajit Singh, it was called by him Ajit Vilas. Its present name literally means “Wealth Store” and is a term that is often used to indicate a treasury, but sometimes the most prestigious royal apartment. This room is now used for the display of some of the museum’s prize exhibits.
Court painting in Jodhpur developed greatly during 17th Century through the association of Marwar's Rulers with the Mughal Emperors. During the 18th and 19th centuries it evolved into a distinctive Rajasthani style, combining Mughal naturalism with local folk style and bold colours.
Jodhpur paintings later took on an even more exuberant turn under Maharaja Man Singh (1803-43), and dozens of paintings of the ruler, his nobles and his ladies were made. Most of these are densely packed scenes of festivity or processions, but Man Singh was also a devoutly religious man, and he commissioned many paintings of his gurus and himself at worship, and religious texts like the Ramayana, the Durga Charitra and the Shiva Rahasya, as well as more obscure texts dealing with Nath philosophies. These imposing paintings often show great imagination in dealing with such large surfaces, often using unexpected changes of scale, division of the page into smaller sections, even showing successive stages of a story on one page.
MINIATURE PAINTING: ENTERTAINMENT
Marwar developed a sophisticated and distinct School of Miniature Painting and this eighteenth-century painting is one of the finest examples of the synthesis of Mughal and Jodhpur art. Every court had it’s own musicians and dancers, and this is a typical night of entertainment at the fort. These were the Maharaja’s favorite entertainers; but they were more than entertainers…The nights were often long…
The twenty-sixth Rathore Ruler, Maharaja Abhaya Singh, sits on a wooden throne elaborately decorated with inlaid jewels. His halo is a Mughal painting influence; in fact, a device originally borrowed from the European tradition.
The Maharaja has his dagger at his side, and at his feet are bowls of sumptuous things to eat. The carafes on the red tray hold the sweetest of wines…another Mughal introduction. Notice the intricate pattern of the floor covering…
The artist, Dalchand, came from a tradition of Delhi painters. He trained in the Mughal imperial workshops and came to Jodhpur in search of Abhaya Singh’s patronage. Do look carefully at the detailing in the fabrics the women wear. It’s his superior eye for detail, his sophisticated sense of color and the delicacy of his drawing that made Dalchand one of the most famous artists of the Marwar School.
MINIATURE PAINTING: DURGA
This miniature painting illustrates an ancient story from a Hindu religious text. Durga; she’s the Goddess with many arms riding a lion, on the right; is fighting the demon forces of Mahishasur. He’s the horned buffalo sitting on his throne in his palace.
Demons had supernatural powers. The dancers in the courtyard have probably been transformed into humans for the purpose of entertaining the Demon God.
The painting symbolizes the age-old rivalry between demons and gods, evil and good, right and wrong...Durga is the Goddess of Destruction and She always succeeds in her mission to slay the forces of evil…
The Rathores, who often went to battle against the forces of evil, worship Mataji, their Mother Goddess, who’s an incarnation of Durga.
MINIATURE PAINTING: DIWALI
This image is of the twenty-seventh Rathore Ruler, Maharaja Ram Singh… Abhaya Singh’s son, in fact…and a fellow clansman sitting under an embroidered canopy. The Maharaja sits on a carpet with his sword in front of him. He’s smoking scented tobacco. His hookah has an enameled base and is decorated with images of women.
Notice the way the Maharaja holds the wrist of his clansman as he accepts the drink offered. This is the traditional way of according respect…Spread out in front of them is a tray with carafes of wine and bowls of barbecued meat, the latter making up much of Rajput cuisine.
The night is ablaze with fire-works celebrating the Festival of Lights known as Diwali, celebrated throughout India and Southeast Asia. It honors the triumphant homecoming of Rama; like Krishna an incarnation of Vishnu, one of the Hindu holy Trinity. Rama is worshipped as the embodiment of righteousness.
The festival also marks the start of the New Year on the Hindu lunar calendar; and is the first day of winter…So the Maharaja and his clansman’s block-printed robes are of darker hue…
MINIATURE PAINTING: POLO
Maharaja Man Singh (1803-43) is the bearded figure on the right, playing polo with his favorite lady companions. Women were an integral part of royal entertainments and sporting life. You will notice; there are no other men in attendance…so the ladies have no need for their veils of Purdah.
The crescent-shaped hems of the skirts and the almond-shaped eyes are characteristic of the nineteenth-century Maharaja Maan Singh Period.
They’re all riding Marwari horses; a breed indigenous to Marwar. These horses are easily recognizable from their inwardly curving elegant ears and are famous for their endurance and bravery in war.
Equestrian traditions and the Rathores are inseparable. Polo has been played in Jodhpur since Mughal times. In fact, the riding breeches known as ‘jodhpurs’ were designed here and have subsequently become popular throughout the world.
Polo is still played in Jodhpur, and the Crown Prince; is himself the captain of the Royal Team.
Cloth architecture was among the most dramatic and colorful paraphernalia of royal life in medieval India. Precious carpets, colourful chintzes, rich embroideries, brocades and velvets brought to the royal encampments the magic and splendour of the imperial residencies.
The Mehrangarh textiles comprises several late Mughal tents, tent walls, canopies, hangings and floor-spreads that date from the late 17th to mid 18th century. Mehrangarh holds perhaps the single largest collection in the world of such textiles from this period. The collection also consists of a small number of garments, floor covers and hangings from the late 18th and early 19th century. The collection has a large number of garments and furnishings from the late 19th and early 20th century.
Many of the textiles reflect high Mughal styles and standards of craftsmanship from the dispersal of master viewers, embroiderers and dyers from the imperial workshops.
Sileh Khana or Arms
Known for valor and heroism Marwar – Jodhpur was one of the largest princely states in India. It was a place of dramatic artistic, cultural, and political developments that spanned centuries, and flourished under the rule of brave Rajput warriors – Rathores.
Each ruler left behind evocative evidence of their military might. Helmets, armor, swords, archery equipment, daggers and other arms – all of which are highly distinctive and often unique examples of exquisite metal work.
The exhibition highlights stunning examples of watered steel blades, hilts embellished with gold and silver inlay, masterfully crafted daggers and dagger blades, and rare examples of shields decorated with leather work.
The Sileh Khana, the armory of Rathore dynasty not only contains metal and leather objects but it encapsulates more than 500 years of the glorious history of Marwar- Jodhpur.
The gallery also has on display personal swords of many Maharajas and Emperors; among them the Khanda of Rao Jodha, weighing over seven pounds, and the sword of Akbar the Great.
The museum’s wood craft gallery displays various wooden objects finely carved, with ivory work and gold polish.
It is located in a part of the palace called Jhanki Mahal, which translates as the Palace of Glimpses…because from here, women could peep through the stone Jali screens and amuse themselves with the activities in two separate courtyards, one on each side…the Coronation Courtyard and the Courtyard of Treasures… Several beautiful cradles, including an electric powered one made for the present Maharaja, make up a rare and unique collection.
The turban has long been an integral part of the costumes of Rajasthan but is, inevitably, under pressure from modern life and style and is slowly going out of fashion. The Turban Gallery in the Mehrangarh Museum seeks to preserve, document and display the many different types of turbans once prevalent in Rajasthan ; every community, region and, indeed, festival has its own head-gear and this diversity, the colors of the desert, is wonderfully brought out in this welcome addition to the museum.