Gallery - Past Exhibitions - 2012 - Rajasthan
(Click image for slideshow)
Its presence is indomitable, cast across a huge swath of northwest Rajasthan (India's large state), and into the eastern frontier of Pakastan. The Thar Desert is a sea of rolling dunes, with a stunted mix of scrub grasses, and khejri, babul and neem trees. Its winter climate consists of freezing nights and days of cloudless skies and searing heat. Summers are unbearably hot. Sprinkled throughout this water-deprived wasteland are small villages made up of mud and dung walled dwellings with thatched roofs. The skylines of the few cities that are there, enviably, are dominated by high-walled ramparts - massive fortifications rising out of the desert - a requirement of past times to protect the city, its rulers, vassals, palaces and wealth from Moguls and neighbouring maharajahs.
Rajasthan, literally translates as 'Land of Kings'. It is a state no longer ruled by rajas yet their influence is still easily felt. Centuries of squabbles and warfare between princely realms has helped shape today's culture, producing a "walled" mentality towards outsiders. Adding to that is a densely complex social structure, heavily steeped in patriarchy, the caste system and parental hierarchy. Although much of the desert's population is impoverished, it remains, as it was in ancient times, an area of craftsmanship and artistic flair with a profusion of exquisite form and vibrant colour, seen in an everyday-display of jewelry, metalwork, architecture, textiles and paintings.
In late 2011 and early 2012 I traveled to this area of Rajasthan to see and document its desert culture, with its gypsies, nomads, shepherds, camel men and other people that call the Thar Desert home.
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