Royal Patronage, Power and Aesthetics in Princely India
Investigating the aesthetics of the zenana - the female quarters of the Indic home or palace - this study discusses the history of architecture, fashion, jewellery and cuisine in princely Indian states during the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The women of these groups inhabited multiple worlds, equally at home in their often remote semi-autonomous princely states as in the metropolitan cities of British India and Europe or at 'coming out' parties in London. During British colonial rule, zenana women were avid patrons of European jewellers, architects and chefs, juxtaposing traditional Indian styles with incoming Western trends. Drawing on a wide variety of sources such as government records, cookbooks, design manuals and memoirs, Jhala illustrates how material culture became representative of authority, sexuality, tradition and the idea of the 'indigenous' during the high noon of the Raj. In doing so, Jhala provides a portrait of a hitherto under-studied hybrid, cosmopolitan perspective, constructed from a uniquely female world, which has relevance to this day.
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