Monday, 23 November 2015

The Quintessential Indian ... Interior!

Well, now that I have you here, I need to confess that there is actually ...such ...thing! 

For a country that is as rich, dynamic, complex, crazy, contradictory and multifarious as Mother India would be a misnomer to use the word 'quintessential' or 'typical' to describe any of its overarching characteristics, artistic proclivities or aesthetics.

Somewhere in Puri ... 
internal grills, wooden shutters, deep, 
 dark vermillion, tribal borders ...& a bust of Lenin!!  

You will find on the east of the Subcontinent a reverence for dark, lineal, earthy & brooding colours, designs & utilities -- as befits the folkloric & tribal observances of, say, Odisha & Assam -- as well as the austere, erudite tastes & influences of both pre & post-British Bengal

Colonial-style, peacock wicker-chairs
weaved moda (stool/table) in a Bengal bungalow

Terracotta, earthen-ware, stone/concrete walls & floors,
& lattice screens are common in east Indian homes

Traditional textiles - Odishi, handloom, ikat sari in 
 mustard and navy blue/aubergine. Tonal 'tastes' seem to 
reflect the staple diet of fish, dahl & brinjal (eggplants)

*A Kolkata classic. 
Earthy hues, historic, time-worn collectibles, dhokra (brass) accessories, plates, pictures, patina & solid rose-wood furniture...

...All add to the fusion of old-world charm & indigenous artisanship of this region.

Over to the west side, the desert dominates, giving way to an explosion of light-absorbing, architectural & textile-reflecting counterpoints. Rajput & Mughal warriors, Gujarati Garba & Rajasthani Kalbeliya dancers, snake-charmers, gypsies & merchants all accede & ascend to the spectacle of effusive colour. To dazzle in 'full' light, or by romantic moonlight, is both a palatial & personal predilection in these parts.

*Don the sunnies for this Jaipur gem -
fashion designer, Liz Bruce's confection of
cushioned alcoves, elaborate arches & stenciling,
cobalt-glass chandeliers & floor pillows for flouncing

Doors of distinction.
Jewel-toned Amber fort with its opulent recesses
& gestures in gold

 A chorus of kaleidoscopic choli blouses awash with
the west-Indian wow factor -- textured, glittering threads &
no colour restrictions, set the tone for one's home

 *Bolsters are BIG & reclining is recommended!
Enamel, glass, precious-stone & metal inlay,
marble, mud-brick & maharanis combine to produce the most lavish west Indian interiors

*A decorative jhoola (Indian swing)
just seals the deal

Down south, with its tropical climate and lush, verdant greenery, a light hand & deft touch see simple, subdued cotton textiles, brass fixtures, wooden houses, sculptures & evocative rangoli patterns -- all part of an intrinsic southern lore, governed by female energy (shakti), motherhood & holistic living. This classical, artistic influence & beautifully serene style can be widely viewed & experienced throughout much of Asia, where Hinduism was exported -- most notably in Indonesia, Cambodia, Burma & even Vietnam.   

Keralan teak-wood mansion with sculptural roofs,  
Venetian etched mirrors 
& sacred Hindu deepam (oil lamp)

*Simple, white & indigo cotton, 
Nelson-fluted floor-lamp & side-table

*Easy, breezy, ethereal ...
with trompe l'oeil stair mural

*Teak toys, antique brass scissors 
other apprized items

Chalk rangoli design
welcoming friends & good fortune

To the north of the continent, where vertiginous cliffs, mountainous terrains & robust residents salute the source of all life -- rivers, endangered eco-systems & the loveliest of low-clouds ...we stumble upon practical magic. Fishing, farming sacred ritual & all things fertility come into play in art, design & building. Villages & villagers of the north place great emphasis on blankets, bamboo, coir, cane, Warli paintings, murals & metal-work.

*Traditional Indian charpoy bed 
& blankets galore

*Sculpted wood & woven cane, sparkly 
cushions & silvery things (including Nandi the bull -
bearer of truth & righteousness)

Handmade bamboo 'chik' screens
allow for airiness & peekaboo privacy

'Warli' home paintings of the north
tell the tales of nomadic Adivasis

While there's enviable variety & heart-heaving abundance in the textiles, textures & treatments of Indian homes & palaces -- from north to south, east to west, big, small, traditional or contemporary -- one thing underpins them all; the interpretation, expression & celebration of the specific environment in which they exist and the ancestral legacies that have coloured & constructed them.

I find the hearths & homesteads of my homeland to be imbued with instinct & individuality ...& much like the people themselves; mindful, artful & decidedly devotional. 

Thank you for making space in your day to read my post 
#All Writing & Water-marked photos by Rani.C (Char)
*Image from Elle Decor International edition 2012 - Kolkata home of Surajit Iyengar (personal copy)
*Image from Celebrity Style magazine 2006 (personal copy)
*Seeta Devi in the film, Prem Sanyas (The Light of Asia) 1925
*From 'India Style' - Monisha Bharadwaj (personal copy)
*Image from 'Indian Interiors' - Sunil Sethi, featuring the south-Indian home of Jean Lesage (personal copy)
*From 'Indian Interiors' - by Sunil Sethi.


  1. Always wonderful reading your posts Rani. Love all the elements here and as usual stunning words and photographs

    XX Marion

  2. Wow Rani.Cee the colours. Realy enjoyed this post and have to say you write the best captions. Well, you write the best full stop. Love the way you express things. Devine and so interesting. Thank you for sharing your beauty and inspiration once again. India is just grand innit. Love Toni

    1. It is my greatest pleasure Toni!!
      So lovely of you to leave this kind comment.
      Blowing you a balmy kiss from down under Xx

  3. Terrific! Feed is working now and I love this version with all the photos. Beautiful awesome ideas from India. You are gifted with words and creativety. Thank you
    Shilpa x

    1. Cheers Shilpa for subscribing AND returning!
      Really appreciate it. Huge thanks Xx

  4. Always breathtaking and beautifully written! Love visiting the palace.
    Just the thing to brighten my day. Thanks Rani for the wonderful info and vibrant pics.
    Big hugs
    Ange xx

    1. And I love having you visit!
      Means a lot to me Ange. Thanks for brightening up so many of my days Xx

  5. Very beautiful, well written article. I am from Coimbatore and love the way you have presented this. Want to visit some more of these place too.

    Enjoying the colours of India. Best


    1. Oh how divine & very exciting! WELCOME :)
      I have not visited Coimbatore, but hear it is a fabulous place.
      Thanks so much for stopping by the palace. Do hope you'll return

      Warmest Wishes
      Rani.Cee Xx

  6. Omgee ,magical Rani. I want all these looks and where can I get that swing lol! Love it. Your blog is so uplifting and warms my heart in every way. Tracy xoxoxoxo

    1. That is so uplifting to hear! Thanks Tracy.
      Feel delighted when you visit.
      Hope all is spectacular ...& wishing you & the fams a joyful Xmas Xx

  7. Our country is lovely. Bright and beautiful photograps and blog.
    Great shanti xxx


#Thanks for bringing some extra sparkle & cheer to the Palace today. I'm delighted to read your comments (& Shimmying too!!!)