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Those who are an intimate to the Rani know it is with not too little irony that her humble abode is referred to as a 'Palace'.......the irony lies in the fact, that in actuality, it is but a small, unassuming, unintentionally sparkling spot on a busy highway (not exactly the sprawling desert setting of ones dreams!) Yet neither its tiny size, nor its positioning, diminishes its individual 'grandeur' or its ability to keep friends coming back, time & time again, for a little piece of 'Palace-Pleasure'.
Do valuable saris, size, silks & sequence
maketh a palace?
It got me pondering common notions of grandeur, wealth & beauty - particularly after one very gormless guest to the Palace squealed at how 'small' it was (a reaction that betrayed a certain condescension, namely 'If it ain't the Taj Mahal, it just ain't special'). She now languishes in the 'tiny' Palace dungeon!. I hitherto came to regard the pervasive idea that 'Grandness' derives solely from the proportions of a dwelling & the expensive contents of it's corners as pure, palatial, puffery.
Grand Bhavan / Ashram of Rabindranath Tagore #
Sure the Versailles, Winter Palaces & stately homes of this world fill our hearts to the brim with 'decor'-ous rapture (& our mouths too heavy with lead, forcing them to the floor!). But so too do the lovingly filled, small & modestly furnished homes of those less fortunate, but no less rich, in creativity.
Stunning painted interior of a tribal hut #
Seems what the pocket forgot, the imagination makes up for. All across the Orient, & world at large, there are boundless examples of decorative dexterity that rival the grandest of palaces.
Bright blue & red washed walls
add some drama to the ordinary #
Happily discarded becomes
happily included #
Pots, painting, plaster & textiles
Pedestrian or palace-worthy? #
A one-room wonder-hut #
Tiny house-caves in Cappadocia,Turkey #
A bag & a blanket
The pilgrims prize essentials #
While tribal arts are all the rage in the western world, they reflect a lifestyle of near-often, subsistence living for the artisans. The importance of these crafts for the continuance of culture, history & survival is often taken for granted. These simple, yet beautiful & inexplicably intricate textiles & crafts, indeed 'furnish', lend character, texture & warmth to earthen, modest spaces, & are also bartered in marriage as prized possessions.
All that glitters is NOT gold #
Camel couture as palace regalia!
It is these 'possessions' that come into focus. For how does one put a value on what is most 'valued' by any given individual. Utilitarian utensils, toys, paper, bottles, tops & other objects are routinely collected & used in novel, innovative ways to create colour, character & ambiance, often culminating in eye-catching displays of creative wealth & ingenuity.
* * *
Disused light-bulbs, painted pots & glass,
bindis & boxes, turbans & tea-strainers all take centre stage.
Recycling, up-cycling & all the other latest trends, owe a debt to centuries of resourceful artistry.
To the Rani, richness, grandness, palatial living are all a matter of perception, if not imagination. It comes from a sense of knowing oneself & one's place in the world. A sense of history & geography, culture & economy, of wanting more but accepting & cherishing less. From understanding the gap between inspiration & aspiration, reconciling that difference, then sitting back comfortably in one's little Palace, safe in the knowledge that what you have, what you've worked for & created, is surely enough.
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*All images are from inside the 'House of Rani' except (#) which are my personal travel photos.
(***) Is a collage created by Rani using photos from 'Rajasthan' by Pauline Lynden & 'Indian Interiors' by Taschen books. Both copies owned by Rani.
#All Writing & Photography by Rani.Cee
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