Maharaja; The Splendour Of India's Royal Courts

The Maharajas were Indian Princes and Kings who had great power over India in the eighteenth century along with the Hindu Rajahs, the Muslim Nizams, the Nawabs and later, the British Empire. The Maharajas were some of the wealthiest men on the planet possessing vast amounts of treasures, with which they created fantastic collections to be kept in their treasure vaults.
During those times the Maharajas possessed the Hyderabad, possibly the largest area on the subcontinent, and a land littered with gold and diamond mines. Consequently, it was the richest state. (Out of interest, it is currently home to the world's largest film studio, Ramoji film city.)
The wealth of the Maharajas far outshone that of the British Empire. Their prudent attitude saw them create a close ally with the new British Empire, assuring security to their wealth and position.

Thanks to this strong relationship between the two empires, the V&A have managed to put together this superb exhibition "MAHARAJA: THE SPLENDOUR OF INDIA'S ROYAL COURTS" which will run from 10TH OCTOBER 2009 - 17TH JANUARY 2010.
According to the V&A, this autumn's exhibition will be the first to comprehensively explore the world of the Maharajas and their extraordinary rich culture. The exhibition will bring together over 250 magnificent objects, many on loan to the UK for the first time from India's royal collections. The exhibition promises to cover the period from the 18th century when the great era of the Maharajas began, to the end of the British rule in 1947. It also promises to show the changing role of the Maharajas in a historical and social context and look at how their patronage of the arts both in India and Europe resulted in splendid and beautiful commissions designed to enhance royal status and identity.

Like most fans, the director of the V&A, Mark Jones is clearly excited by the prospect of showing possibly some of the finest works within the Indian royal collections as his statement suggests: "There has never been an exhibition like this before, showing the spectacular treasures of the courts of the Maharajas. Many of the objects are leaving India for the first time to come into the V&A. This exhibition will show that India's rulers were significant patrons of the arts, in India and the west, and will tell the fascinating story of the changing role of the Maharaja from the early 18th century to the final days of the Raj"

I urge anyone with or without any interest in the Maharajas, to put this exhibition date in their diary and grace the gallery to witness some of the magnificent pieces on display and perhaps learn a thing or two about a culture not often discussed or presented in the UK.


Charles Watson Turban Jewel - it is an enameled gold set with diamonds, rubies, emeralds, a sapphire, and a pendant pearl. These jewels were presented to admiral Charles Watson in India.

Howdah - A howdah, or houdah, is a carriage which is positioned on the back of an elephant, or occasionally some other animal, used most often in the past to carry wealthy people or for use in hunting or warfare. It was also a symbol of wealth for the owner, and as a result were decorated with expensive gems.

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  1. Definitely coming to see this one :)

  2. Cool! Looking forward to checking it out more!