[All photos in this post are by Joginder Singh, as seen in Mighty Maharajas: Forts & Palaces of India, and are published here with permission from The Vendome Press.]
Pattern. It's an unmistakable element on nearly every page of Amita Baig's densley illustrated new book, Mighty Maharajas.
[Click pictures to enlarge.]
Not that color isn't omnipresent, too. By turning the pages, we're taking a tour through India -- the land of rich, eye-opening color, after all.
And enjoying sights like the vibrant decorative paintings that cover the walls inside Taragarh Fort, Bundi, pictured above, as well as the shimmering interior of Athar Mahal, below.
The piercing blue of the ornamented Chhavi Niwas corridor overlooking the City Palace, Jaipur, is unforgettable.
But Baig's main focus is architecture. An architectural heritage specialist, she has been working to preserve India's historical sites for 25 years and currently serves as Consultant to the World Monuments Fund (involved specifically with the India program). So there's great emphasis on earthy stone and all things sculptural.
By letting myself become immersed in the carved, etched, and constructed design -- incredibly intricate details at the Diwan-e-Aam at Delhi's La Qila, aka Red Fort, pictured at the top of this post and its royal apartments, shown below -- I tend to hone in on the geometric (those wave-like chevrons or lahariya again!) and scrolling, plant-inspired lines that have been a constant throughout India's 4,000-year history.
It's fascinating to see how the distinct Indian aesthetic has endured and evolved amid thousands of years of upheaval and outside influences. How an affinity for all-over decoration has lasted.
Baig covers it all, by the way, from antiquity through the colonial period.
For her, the forts and palaces seem to be a jumping off point -- a way to tell India's dramatic story. The text deals largely with architecture as it relates to Indian civilization, rather than design for its own sake. In other words, the book isn't strictly a design tome. For example, the helpful glossary at the back includes terms related to architecture but also Indian culture as a whole.
textiles, jewelry and fashion.
Take a peek inside here.