Maharajas, maharanis and more

Today marks the start of a new exhibit at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco,  Maharaja: The Splendor of India’s Royal Courts running until April 8, 2012. The museum’s assistant curator of South Asian art Qamar Adamjee writes that the exhibit is more than a chance to look at beautiful objects.

The two principal narrative arcs around which the exhibition is organized bring to life the complex and fascinating worlds of India’s great kings. They help us to understand the real people behind the objects that were made for them. The first goes behind the scenes to analyze the roles and qualities of kingship in India. The second traces the ways the institution of kingship shifted against a rapidly changing political and historical backdrop from the early eighteenth century through the 1930s, a period that saw a change in the maharajas’ status from independent rulers to “native princes” under British colonial rule.–Decoding Images of Maharajas

The exhibit is free this Sunday, October 23, when the museum will also offer a family fun day. In the process of rebranding the Asian Art museum has taken on a new logo, an upside down A (a symbol with a meaning of “for all” in mathematics) in a move to be more inclusive.

This behind-the-scenes video of a maharaja’s silver and enamel carriage being brought in through two large windows and uncrated inside the museum is from its multimedia page which has interviews with princes and their descendants, and some of the art conservators who prepared items for the exhibit.

Related: A profile of the Asian Art Museum’s assistant curator of South Asian art Qamar Adamjee in Desi Women, Offbeat Paths

4 thoughts on “Maharajas, maharanis and more

  1. I already saw this exhibit in the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto last year. Highly recommend it!

  2. I checked out the opening for the exhibit on Saturday – really beautiful collection of old maharaj history – but my favorite by far was Sanjay Patel’s artwork ( which framed the exhibit by gracing the walls of the halls. So pretty. Seems like they also have an array of events around this exhibit for the next few months – please go, it’s worth it!

    • Yes, Patel’s art is a great addition to the museum during the current Maharaja exhibit (it’s also on the streetlight banners and the banners hung up on the museum’s entrance). Looking forward to the exhibit of his art next month: “Deities, Demons, and Dudes with ‘Staches.”