11 May, 2021

Crane Prince

Karen Knorr’s Photoshop vision places animals in Rajasthan’s palatial grandeur. The result is magical, absurd, gorgeous.

Karen Knorr/Tasveer
Crane Prince

In the early hours of February 6, 1993, India’s finest photographic archive, that of Bourne and Shepherd, photographers by ‘special appointment to the Viceroy’, went up in smoke. At daybreak the people of Calcutta woke to find their streets carpeted with singed Victorian prints: maharajas with bird’s-nest beards were lying in the gutters; images of the great Delhi Durbar of 1911 floated over the rooftops of Ballygunge and the lawns of the Tolly Club; Viceroys in white ties fluttered across the Maidan into the Ganga and were washed down unceremoniously into the Bay of Bengal.

It is a widespread belief in India that death is mitigated by the certainty of rebirth; any disaster is mirrored somewhere else by a blessing. So maybe it was no coincidence that the same year, archivists in Bikaner found in a cupboard in a distant wing of the great Lalgarh Palace perhaps the greatest trove of photographs of princely Rajasthan ever collected. These were the photographic archives of the maharajas of Bikaner from 1890 to 1950.  Shrouded in a cocoon of neem...

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