Historically, the great Indian design treasure trove came alive under the patronage of the benevolent Maharaja. He, with his evolved sensibility and inherited eye, found the most talented craftsman, artist, weaver, and jeweller and patronised them, not just with lavish designs but also his own sense of colour, texture, and proportion.
To every Cartier bracelet he bought from Europe there were at least 10 exquisite broaches, neck pieces, and rings (his preferred jewellery) created for him, right there in the backyard of his palace. For every portrait shot by a European portrait artist, there was an indigenous artist whose work he liked and developed with his own sense of aesthetics. He endlessly commissioned art, got seamless yardage of silk woven for his achkan and capes, had a battery of embroiderers embellishing his costumes…all this crafted within the comfort of his own palace.
Even in textiles, the development was immense. The Marathas adopted the Maheshwari and the Chanderi. The Kashmiris developed the Dogri, Gujurat wove textiles in gold, and Rajasthan mastered the craft of block print and tie and dye.
Royal Fables revisits these palace studios, the erstwhile craft karkhanas, rediscovering the finest of luxury crafts by current day scions who have kept this legacy alive. The gold weaving done in the palace of Mansa, Gujarat by the Rani Saaheb Mandawa Darshana Kumariji; the revival of Gota Patti, this time on the finest organic cotton in shades of ivory to beige by Rani Kamini Singh of Seohara; the magnificence of ombre dyes by Rani Jaykirti Singh of Baria; the ethereal florals by Kunwar Mayank Raj; the Ravi Varma inspired sarees in Chanderis by HH Maharani Radhika Raje Gaekwad of Baroda…and the cherry on this heritage fable being the costumes revived by Umang Hutheesing worn to brilliance by Princess Rhea Singh of Patiala, and Princess Mriganka Singh of Jammu and Kashmir with jewels by Diacolor.
It’s a fable of brilliance kept alive by kings and their families. – Anshu Khanna