Tradition & Change Western Influence On Bikaner
Towards the end of the Nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth , a major confluence of indigenous tradition 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.
Carved Wooden walking sticks; art metalware spittoons; silver goad for elephant; a chaupar game boardl a toran, an auspicious symbol usually placed over an entrance door; ivory playing cards; cigarette holders of ivory, glass etc.; chintamani yantra, a tantric diagram; a compass; horoscope of H.H.Ganga Singhji, Maharaja of Bikaner; surahi, water bottles made of lead having silver lids; a sandalwood sword with miniature tableaux made by Shubhkaran Nahata, Sardarshahar; playing cards bearing the insignia of Bikaner, printed in Paris; dressing table; rock glass buttons; cigarette case; thumbarchers; jade, bone and crystal sticks; gun-powder cases made of buffalo horn/mother of pearl; shield made of buffalo hide and adorned with brass elements.
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 century.
Manicure and pedicure tools have ivory, silver and mother-of-pearl handles; a set of personal accessories for men having chromium 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). Below are 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 jewllery boxes of wood, enameled brass, ivory and lac-turnery, one sees a filigree work vase, a silver hand-fan handle and a couple of back scratchers.
Lavish Entertainment of Indian and European Guests was frequent at the palaces of Bikaner. Large Dining Halls, Adorned with the finest carpets, chandeliers and hunters trophies had the best of colonial dining tables and chairs. To suit the newly introduced western Life-style, the most fashionable crockery, cutlery and tea and coffee sets were imported from Europe. On the Left one sees two photographic views of royal dining halls. The one on the Extreme left shows Lall Niwas, dining room at Gajner, and the other shows the small dining room in the Lallgarh Palace in Bikaner.
In the Middle, one sees a low silver tepoy, a cocktail mixer, a silver bottle for alcohol and stand with snack-sticks.
On the left one sees gold-rimmed, colorful tea cups, which became popular in Europe in the middle of the twentieth century. These cups were hand-made in Italy by F’orentine. The coffee set on the right is a gift of the Begum of Palanpur given on the occasion of the wedding of Maharaja Karni Singhji of Bikaner. The set bears the following inscription : “Bone China, Aynsley, England”.