Over the weekend I had a chance to visit the Field Museum in Chicago, to see the exhibit “Maharaja: The Splendor of India’s Royal Courts.” I always enjoy museum exhbitions, but this time around, I learned from my earlier mistakes.

The seeds of many stories come out of these wanderings; but of course, the exhibits are large, and seeds are easy to misplace. So this time, I was careful to pay close attention to those tiny nibbles – and to write them down.

What goes through my head at an exhibit like this?

  • Holi Festival
  • Rajput state
  • Krishnaraja Wodeyar III, Ruler of Mysore
  • The Patiala Commission from Cartier
  • Palace – Umaid Bhawan
  • Palace – Manik Bagh

The Holi festival of colors looked like a wonderful celebration, which I want to learn more about – and to see if there are celebrations around me to observe or participate in. Lo and behold, Chicago DOES celebrate Holi!

The Rajput state seemed like an excellent place to learn about a bit of culture and history that’s been veiled to me – while I’ve read extensively on the Raj and colonial eras, this inspired me to dig deeper into Northern India’s past.

Krishnaraja Wodeyar III was apparently an expert gamesman, who collected and invented many board games during his rule! I thought that was fascinating, and wanted to look up more about the games he developed – posibly to learn the rules as well.

The Patiala Commission was a series of diamond jewelry made by Cartier for the Maharaja of Patiala in 1928. However, the exhibit just states that only the necklace survived, and it was found fifty years later missing several diamonds. I want to know more about where the commission went! Who might have been responsible, and what happened?

Umaid Bhawan and Manik Bagh are both modern-style palaces. I didn’t expect to be so taken by their architecture and the idea of creating a palace along those lines. Also, Umaid Bhawan is now partially a luxury hotel. A man can dream, right?

The exhibit had much more, of course. If it comes to your town I highly recommend it!