The word maharaja, literally âgreat king', conjures up a vision of splendour and magnificence. The image of a turbaned, bejewelled ruler with absolute authority and immense wealth is pervasive and evocative, but it fails to do justice to his role in the cultural and political history of India. Maharaja: the splendour of India's royal courts re-examines the world of the maharajas and their extraordinarily rich culture.
The exhibition spans the period from the beginning of the 18th century to the mid-20th century, bringing together over 250 magnificent objects, many being lent from India's royal collections for the first time. It examines the changing role of the maharajas within a social and historical context and reveals how their patronage of the arts, both in India and Europe, resulted in splendid and beautiful objects symbolic of royal status, power and identity.
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