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Maharaja: The Splendour of India's Royal Courts
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Maharaja: The Splendour of India's Royal Courts

3.67 of 5 stars 3.67  ·  rating details  ·  6 ratings  ·  3 reviews
The word “maharaja” – literally “great king” – conjures up a vision of splendor and magnificence: ropes of pearls, huge diamonds, jeweled turbans, elaborately carved furniture, shimmering textiles in every imaginable color. This lavishly illustrated book, published to accompany a major exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, examines the real and perceived wo ...more
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published September 16th 2009 by V & A Publishing (first published 2009)
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William West
Fascinatingly repellent splendor. This show, organized by Britain's Victoria & Albert Museum, and composed almost entirely of works from V&A and the British Museum, tries to promote a sense of awe towards hereditary royals. That it does so not entirely unsuccessfully is a sign of the reactionary nature of capitalist hegemony and its insidious influence on even the class-conscious spectator.

This "blockbuster" exhibit is a celebration of the Indian "royals" who agreed to pseudo-rule durin
Arvind Balasundaram
This exhibition catalogue of the V&A's much touted show MAHARAJA is more an encompassing survey of the world of luxury in which these personalties lived and ruled, than the actual objects in the exhibition. In spite of this, however, this account presents the reader with a glimpse of the world in which these princely families existed, and how, even as colonial subjects, they often lived lives far grander than their British overlords. They surrounded themselves with anything and everything Eu ...more
This book is an approachable combination of exhibition catalog, history and ethnography. The pieces are divided by topic, and accompanied by short essays, interspersed with vignettes about individual maharajas.

I like to read the catalogs before going to the exhibits at the SF Asian Art museum, so that my visits are better contextualized. Usually this is somewhat of a chore, but in this case it was a pleasure. Unfortunately for the book, still photography has a difficult time capturing the "sple
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