Indian Royalty

Chitra Thirunal Bala Rama Verma, One Fanam of Travencore Mint

The kingdom of Travancore was a Hindu feudal kingdom till 1858 and later an Indian princely state ruled by the lankini Travancore royal family. In ancient times, the region had been ruled by the Cheras, Cholas and briefly by the Vijayanagara dynasty, until it became an independent state in the mid-18th century. The Travancore royals… Read more »

History of Style

Class, caste, gender, faith, community, identity. We give away so much of who we through what we wear. Looking at 19th-century photographs and watercolour portraits from the Indian subcontinent, it might seem like our ancestors dressed more conservatively, seeking to hide everything but their social status which they wore like an armour. But we can… Read more »

Painted Photograph of Maharana Bhupal Singh of Udaipur

In the West, the hand-painting of photographs was limited to adding subtle highlights or making minor corrections. In India, however, the technique took a unique and characteristically vibrant turn. Despite their initial infatuation with the medium, Indian royals soon started to feel something was missing in black-and-white photographs. Something of the grandeur and magnificence of… Read more »

19th-Century Indian and European women

PA Herzog and P Higgins were two Englishmen who worked in Central India. Herzog presumably learned the art of photography in Jabalpur from John Blees, who produced an instructional manual on the subject. Both Herzog and Higgins worked for Lala Deen Dayal and Johnston & Hoffmann before opening their studio at Mhow (in present-day Madhya… Read more »

Maharaja of Hutwa

Hutwa Raj was a feudal estate belonging to the Bhumihar Brahmins of Baghochia dynasty and it was located in the Saran Division of present-day Bihar. Read about Indian kings and their fabulous jewels here. This studio portrait of the Maharaja is an albumen print mounted on a cabinet card. The front of the cabinet card… Read more »

Rama Varma XV, the Rajarshi of Cochin

The Kingdom of Cochin came into existence around the sixth century AD. According to tradition, Kochi’s first king was a son of the last Perumal’s sister and was, therefore, the immediate heir under the Marumakkatayamm, a system of succession by matrilineal inheritance. His name was Vir Kerala Varma, a title held by the Rajas of… Read more »

Prince of Morvi, painted photograph

The tradition of painted photography was a syncretic visual culture that began in India in the 19th century, at almost the same time as photography made its debut here. This genre became extremely popular, particularly in Rajasthan and Gujarat, fuelled partly by a dissatisfaction with black and white photographs and partly by rising unemployment among… Read more »

Krishnaraja Wodeyar III, Silver Pavali or 1/4 Rupee

The Wodeyar/Wadiyar dynasty owns the distinction for being the only Indian royal family to have ruled for five centuries! Chosen to serve as vassals of the Vijayanagara empire in 1399, the Wodeyars grew over time to reign over their own kingdom, which they did right up till the formation of the Union of India in… Read more »