Udaipur Palace Silver
Udaipur City Palace Silver Collection
We had a little time before we left the City Palace before our lake ride so we took in the Silver Collection. Following the arrows, we rounded a corner and in front of us was a huge glass square. The information board read:- Mandap (Hindu Marriage Pavilion). 20th Century. Biyah or wedding is one of the most important rites of passage in the Hindu life. The wedding usually takes place in the open, on earth, around a sacred fire.
The mandap or pavilion comprises four pillars, that sometimes support a canopy but it is essentially open to the sky. Since the four poles are arranged in a square with a fire in the centre, the mandap is a mandala, (Sanskrit for circle) and thus, like all mandalas, the mandap stands for stability and order. The fire is arranged in the centre in a kunda (container) that is usually made of brick. An elaborate ceremony is organised by a special priest familiar with performing the rites. The core ceremony is essentially a Vedic Yajna (Fire Sacrifice).
The fire is worshipped and symbolic offerings of rice, ghee, fruits, cotton seeds, flowers etc. are submitted to the Divinity while chanting appropriate and sacred mantras. Ghee (clarified butter) and wood are periodically added as fuel to keep the fire going. The final culmination in a series of complex rituals, each with its own deep significance, is the circumambulation of the fire by the bride and groom, seven times.
Bimbling around we saw the mandap from the other side.
Manek Sthamb: During the wedding ceremonies in the house a pillar or post is installed by the priest in a corner of the house at an auspicious time following some kind of sacred ritual. This is done a few days or a day before the actual wedding takes place and after the Grah – Shanti Yagna is performed for peace in the wedded life.
The post signifies a symbol of stability in a marriage. It is made of wood by a carpenter and is brought to the house and is received reverentially by the family. On top of the post there is a kind of platform on which a pitcher of water is placed and is topped with a coconut, considered as a very auspicious object in Indian mythology.
This pillar is kept at the same place till such time as another wedding takes place in the family, and then they replace it with a new one. We stepped into the collection, on our right......
Buggy (Carriage) Circa 1940.This carriage made of silver crafted abroad, is a fine example of their informed patronage of European crafts of the 20th century. This opulent landau was a gift given by the Royal House of Bikaner to celebrate a marriage between the Mewar and Bikaner families. The merger is also reflected in the symbolic decoration of the body ranging from the Coat-of-Arms of the Royal House of Bikaner to panels depicting lion and boar hunting scenes associated with the valour and bravery of the Rajput kings. On a gentler note prancing cupids symbolising love decorate the carriage panel rims.
A closer look at the detailing.
Photograph of the Silver Buggy by Frederic Selby & Co. Ltd., Birmingham as part of the wedding dowry from Bikaner State to Princess Sushila Kumari ji Bikaner on the auspicious occasion of her wedding to Maharaj Kumar Bhagwat Singh ji of Udaipur on 29th February 1940, seen in procession outside Junagarh Fort Bikaner.
Splendour of Silver: Silver has long held a cherished place for people across India. The Indian subcontinent has little natural deposits of this metal, yet it is widely used and loved, a fact attributable to a history of trade stretching back to almost two thousand years. Coupled with traditions of hereditary silversmithing passed down from father to son, Indian silver is remarkable for its limitless forms, noted for its technical perfection and characterised by its varied use.
Silver is held sacred in traditional Hindu beliefs, which associate the beautiful white metal with the cool moon, surpassed only in importance by warm gold. Its association with purity and religion is also the reason silver is extensively used by royalty. Additionally, unlike gold which is highly malleable, silver is strong enough to allow the fashioning of sturdier objects and could thus be put to more robust and varied use, including transport.
The artists who produced these beautiful items for royal and ritual use have largely remained nameless. Produced for gods and rulers, the act of creation was considered a form of obeisance and the objects themselves remain the only and perhaps the most telling witness to their skill.
Maharaj Kumar Saheb Bhagwat Singhji of Udaipur (p. 1940-1955) carrying the Ram Rewari on his shoulders on the occasion of Jaljhulani Ekadashi (a festival where Hindus worship the Vamana Avatar of Lord Vishn).
In the next room this display caught our eye. An Aarti Lamp (bottom left) (Late 19th early 20th century), for use in aarti ritual when light from a lit lamp is offered to a deity and a silver parasol (early 20th century), to be used above a deity.
Leather travelling dressing case, 1920’s. The sterling silver mounts bears the coat of arms of the house of Bikaver – Hallmarked London – The Makers Mark, SD. London Silversmith Charles Henry Dumenil. This case was part of the wedding dowry of Princess of Bikaner on the auspicious occasion of her wedding.
Traditional Caparisoned Horse (meaning to be decked out in rich decorative coverings). Horses are intrinsic to the warrior Rajput’s way of life. The prized horse of this region was the Marwari or Malani, originally from Jodhpur or Marwar area and bred under strict regulations from the 12th century onwards. Noted for their loyalty and bravery in battle, they are instantly recognisable for their inward-turning ear tips that meet at the centre. Known for their sharp instincts, loyalty and endurance, it was believed that the Marwari could leave a battlefield only under three conditions – victory, death, or carrying a wounded master to safety.
Howdah (Elephant Litter). Late 19th century. The animal associated most closely with Rajpoot royalty are the elephant and horse. Their importance was especially evident on days of religious or royal significance, when they would be bedecked and either be worshipped or participate in the rituals or processions. In addition the elephant would be decorated by a wide variety of glittering textiles and ornaments for the head, neck and legs.
A little odd to see a silver tractor behind the aeroplane...... Family pictures in silver frames.
H.H. The Mahrajah’s Cup Mysore 1914 won by Cherry Wood and a cabinet full of trophies.
Silver Perfume Box with Lalique Crystal Bottles. France. c,1930. Rene Lalique, French designer of decorative arts was renowned for bringing his jeweler’s eye while designing objects d’art. Amongst his early commissions was this charming set of thirty-five crystal bottles with ‘circus bears’ stoppers made for Princess Kailash Kumari Devi, daughter of H.H. Maharaja Rajendra Narayan Singh Deo of Patna Balangir, Odisha.
It was then gifted to Princess Nivritti Kumari Singh Deo by her grandmother, the present Rajmata Sahiba Premlata Kumari Devi, after the demise of her grandfather H.H. Maharaja Raj Raj Singh Deo of Patna Balangir. The silver box came to Udaipur in December 2013 when H.H. Maharaja Sahib K.V. Singh Deo of Patna Balangir presented it to Maharaj Kumar Sahib Lakshyaraj Singh Mewar of Udaipur on the auspicious occasion of his engagement (Tilak Dastur) with Princess Navritti Kumari Singh Deo of Patna Balangir. This family heirloom with its rich history was donated to The City Palace Museum, Udaipur by Maharaj Kumar Sahib Lakshyaraj Singh Mewar. (I need a cup of tea after typing that).
Silver swing crib with rattles in display case. Time to nip a bit quick for our boat ride on the lake.
ALL IN ALL SOME VERY LOVELY PIECES
GOOD WEDDING PRESENTS......