Rajasthan – A land of kings, colours and crafts.
From the far west…
By the beginning of the 18th century, the Mughal dynasty was losing its grip and, with the decline of the Mughals, came the decline of the Rajputs. The stage was set for another take-over… from traders from the far west, who had already gained entry into India in the 17th century – the French, the Portuguese and finally the British. Once again, the whole country, but particularly this highly educated and artistic region, embraced the culture of its new captors. By the early 19th century, most parts of Rajasthan were totally under the control of the British Raj. This time, the significant changes that took place were in the form of systems of administration, justice and education.
During the fight for independence, the Rajput princes sided with the British Raj, sending their soldiers to help the British forces, clearly worried that their new Western lifestyle was in jeopardy. However, with the end of British rule in 1947, the 22 princely states of Rajputana were finally merged into Rajasthan as we know it today. The days of the maharajas were truly over. Their palaces are still there, mute witnesses to a bygone age.
So we have discovered that it is no mere accident, or modern-day phenomenon, that Rajput artisans continue to specialise in such an exhaustive collection of crafts – everything from the intricate hand-carving of wood to the creation of miniature paintings drawn with a single animal hair!
Armed with our brief, but essential, historical background of this State, next time we will investigate the production of the many beautiful artefacts that Rajasthan is famous for!