Maharajahii Indiei / The Maharajahs of India (I).
(Ann Morrow, „Highness. The Maharajahs of India”, „Introduction”)
Once there were 565 Princes in India. They were bewitching, wanton, cruel, exotic, mischievous, imperious, generous, lovable, ascetic, subtle, charming and hedonistic. They claimed descent from the sun, the moon, from Aryan tribes dating back five hundred years before the time of Christ. Swimming pools were filled with champagne to celebrate their birth, some were sons of village women born in huts on mud floors. Their babies were rocked in cradles of gold, their titles included the Lord of the Umbrella. Some had states the size of France, others were scarcely bigger than a pocket handkerchief.
They were like Renaissance Princes, they ruled over one-third of India and were gods to their people. They were hated by the pale Nehrus, who thought them, with their moats and palaces, fortresses, elephant armies, court musicians, poets and artists, ‘gilded and empty-headed’, an invention of the Raj.
Carpets of ivory, pearls and gold, coffers of diamonds and rubies, emeralds as big as goose eggs, jewels designed by Cartier were taken for granted. Their marble palaces were filled with Aubusson tapestries, cigar boxes playing minuets. Faberge clocks, paintings by Landseer and Rembrandt and gaudy posters, ‘Love Me, Love My Dog’. Nowadays a box of gold tiddly-winks may be all that is left of an inheritance.
-to be continued-