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Ambivalent Authority: Manoraths as History in the Depiction of Power Dynamics at theUdaipur Court (1921 - 1930)


· Aditya Ruia University of Mumbai (Mumbai, India)


07/26 | 17:30-17:50 UTC+2/CEST


Through an analysis of three images of the Vallabha Sampradaya, this paper will demonstrate the importance of this sect and its visual sources in our understanding of the internal politics at the court of Udaipur.

The study will concentrate on three manorath paintings which will be considered as pictorial history by connecting them with actual visits of rulers to the Nathdwara temple. The examination will also suggest shifting power equations at the court of Udaipur at the time of Bhupal Singh (1884 – 1955 C.E.). He was appointed as the de-facto ruler of Udaipur in 1921 by the colonial government during the life time of his father, Fateh Singh (1849 – 1930 C.E.), who continued to remain the titular Maharana. This investigation will also highlight the importance of the officiating Goswamis (priests) in legitimizing royal power.

The paintings that will be considered for analysis are two manoraths in the collection of the City Palace of Udaipur – one by artist Sukhdev (2011.18.0061) and the other by Laxmilal Goud (2011.18.0062) – depicting Maharana Fateh Singh along with Bavji (heir apparent) Bhupal Singh. A third image, from a private collection, also depicts a visit but uses a different iconography to convey a shift in power.

This study will lead us to understand how such images were used by Bhupal Singh to shape and legitimize his position. This statement will be further strengthened by colonial accounts and the daily court records at Udaipur, such as the haqiqat - bahidas of Maharana Fateh Singh.