Style Court

Textiles, Art History, Gardens, and a Little Mental Traveling with Courtney Barnes 2006-2016


Patterns of Mighty Maharajas

[All photos in this post are by Joginder Singh, as seen in Mighty Maharajas: Forts & Palaces of Indiaand 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.

Architect and photographer Joginder Singh's breathtaking images are there to satisfy those who learn by looking. (There are 319 color illustrations in all, accompanied by 14 plans.) I'm not sure if this comes through strongly enough in the handful of photos I've included here, but Singh masterfully captures the play of light and a sense of scale. There is also a wonderful balance of the obviously opulent with the more ruggedly impressive. And, again, there's pattern. After coming to the last page, I find myself making all sorts of connections between Indian buildings, textiles, jewelry and fashion.

Take a peek inside here.


ArchitectDesign™ said...

yes, all-over decoration is what holds it all together as you say. I was surprised at how Western a lot of the palaces appeared but I suppose it was inevitable. Love the images you chose!

Style Court said...

Thanks, Stefan! I'm anxious to read your take, too. And, yeah, it's really fascinating to see how Persian and European influences were integrated over the centuries.

Pam said...

Gorgeous, Gorgeous. Can't wait to get this. It was interesting to see the gradual Western influence in the art yesterday at the Maharaja exhibit in Richmond.

Style Court said...

Pam -- So glad you saw it before it closed!

Jamie Herzlinger said...

I love this style of architecture. So beautiful! You have to appreciate all of the work that went into this amazing buildings! Nothing like modern day building techniques!

Love, Jamie Herzlinger

Style Court said...

Jamie -- yes, the craftsmanship is staggering!