By the late nineteenth century, a new style of palace building
became fashionable in India. The Rajas discovered European
Architectural styles. Equally significant were the changes that
took place in the interiors of Indian palaces. Bikaner too became
a part of this hybrid Indo-European lifestyle. Classical French
furniture, beautiful porcelains vases from China and Japan, oil
paintings by European masters, mirrors and stained glass from Belgium,
cut-glass chandeliers and Venice became raging fashion.
Objects of Everyday life
Towards the end of the nineteenth century and the
beginning of the twentieth, a major confluence of indigenous traditions
and European influence became visible in Bikaner. A new aesthetic
which was a result of standards of beauty set by the colonial art
schools began to alter the quality of production of objects of everyday
life. What emerged from this meeting of cultures was a new hybrid
life-style of the rulers of Bikaner, as elsewhere in India.
Personal Accessories for Men and
Objects traditionally used by the royal ladies of Bikaner for their
beautification were a proof of their subtle personal culture of
body-care to which western paraphernalia was added in the nineteenth
and pedicure tools having ivory, silver and mother-of-pearl handles;
a set of personal accessories for men having chromium-plated and
enameled handles and cases, made in England. At the bottom are assorted
objects and fragments such as costume jewellery, buttons, buckles,
scissors, beads, etc. Adjacent to these is a miniature make-up cabinet
having Belgian mirrors and gold-embossed glass bottles for perfumes
and unguents. Above these are hand-fans with gold and silver thread
embroidery (one of these having a gold-plated silver handle).
Brass containers for personal belongings and above a mirror-frame
having typical raised work of the Usta craftsmen of Bikaner. Next
to these are ivory and sandalwood hand-fans.
Besides jewellery boxes and wood, enameled brass, ivory and lac-turnery,
one sees a filigree work vase, a silver hand-fan handle and a couple
Goblets and Glasses
Imported from Europe and made of glass and cut glass, these champagne
cups as well as wine, whisky and liquor glasses and a variety of
bowls became popular in Bikaner at the turn of the nineteenth century.
Some of the fine examples of these are shown here. A formidable
quantity of such pieces were kept in the palace store for large
Though India has an ancient tradition of glass making, it was only
after the coming of Mughals and the British that glassware became
popular and entered the arena of aristocratic daily life.
Nineteenth century India saw the rise of European dining culture
and table manners. Best of crockery was imported from Europe by
the princely families of Rajasthan for their daily use and for entertaining