Dressing up royal history

An Udaipur gallery houses the regalia of Mewar rulers showing Rajputana’s heritage 

Published: 08th August 2021 05:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 07th August 2021 11:29 AM   |  A+A-

the Gokul Niwas Gallery

When Colonel James Tod, the British political agent at the Mewar court, visited the City Palace, Udaipur, for the first time in 1818, he was met with an opulence no Englishman had ever laid eyes on before. In Annals and Antiquities of Rajasthan, Tod records Mewar’s textile traditions.

Luckily, they have now been resurrected by textile conservation consultant Smita Singh under the guidance of Shriji Arvind Singh Mewar of Udaipur, the 76th custodian of House of Mewar and Chairman and Managing Trustee of the Maharana of Mewar Charitable Foundation.

The royal family members
Lakshyaraj Singh and Nivritti 
in heirlooms

The Gokul Niwas Gallery, now open to the public, showcases Mewar’s textile regalia. The gallery housed 
in the City Palace Museum launched its art catalogue in April while its treasures can be seen in Royal Textiles of Mewar, published last month. Singh, who worked on the catalogue, says, “The family has great taste in textiles. Their compactor hooks came from Italy, buttons from Germany, lace from France and voil from England.”

Jyoti Jasol, a member of the conservation team, recalls the Mewar women storing heirlooms using cloves, tobacco and dried neem leaves. “The khaleechis (silken pouches) that the maids sewed and embroidered after their siesta in the 18th century, look like designer purses even today.”

According to Singh, the team spent six years documenting the textile heritage of the kingdom and creating a glossary of local Mewari terms for the royal textiles. The gallery has 100 objects on display, 2,225 textile pieces in storage, including costumes and accessories such as Jaago, Vaago, Angerkhi and Choga, the traditional outfits for men, odhana, ghaghra, kurti and kanchali and French chiffon saris. 

The showstopper is a 400-year-old palanquin covered with fine silk cloth embroidered with gold and silver thread.


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