“Peacock in the Desert: The Royal Arts of Jodhpur, India” Presents Incredible Sights of the Region at Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Masterpieces and relics, never before seen beyond palace walls, illustrate the history and artistic legacy of the Rathore Dynasty

A major collaboration brings a groundbreaking exhibition of royal treasures from India to Houston starting March 4th

Organized by the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, in partnership with the Mehrangarh Museum Trust of Jodhpur, Peacock in the Desert: The Royal Arts of Jodhpur, India showcases nearly four centuries of artistic creation from the kingdom of Marwar-Jodhpur, one of the largest princely states in India, in the northwestern state of Rajasthan.

The exhibition will be on view at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, from March 4 through August 19, 2018, before touring to the Seattle Art Museum and the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, Canada.


“Mela” at the MFAH! Family and Community Day: (Sunday, March 4, 2018: 12:15–6 p.m.) Celebrate color at this mela, or community festival, inspired by the art of Peacock in the Desert: The Royal Arts of Jodhpur, India. Explore the exhibition, join art-making activities, watch performances, and even hear from Baijilal Shivranjani Rajye of Marwar-Jodhpur! This program is free with Museum admission. Tickets for the exhibition “Peacock in the Desert: The Royal Arts of Jodhpur, India” are available separately. MFAH members, and visitors 12 & younger, always get in free.

A Talk with Baijilal Shivranjani Rajye of Marwar-Jodhpur, India: (Sunday, March 4, 2018: 3–4 p.m.) The daughter of H. H. Maharaja GajSingh II of Marwar-Jodhpur, Baijilal Shivranjani Rajye of Marwar-Jodhpur has played an important and transformational role in her family’s vast and diverse properties that include palaces, forts, museums, and hotels. On the opening day of Peacock in the Desert: The Royal Arts of Jodhpur, India, join Baijilal Shivranjani Rajye as she talks with the exhibition’s co-curators, Karni Singh Jasol and Mahrukh Tarapor, about the constant need to bridge the distance between tradition and modernity to keep the legacy of Jodhpur’s artistic and cultural traditions alive and meaningful for contemporary audiences. This program is free. Doors open 30 minutes before the lecture.



Through lavishly made ceremonial objects, finely crafted arms and armor, sumptuous jewels, intricately carved furnishings and more, Peacock in the Desert: The Royal Arts of Jodhpur, India outlines the dynamic history of the Marwar-Jodhpur region and the Rathore dynasty that ruled it for over seven centuries.

Established in the 15th century, the city of Jodhpur was once the powerful capital of Marwar, a vast desert kingdom ruled by the Rathores, who were descendants of a hereditary social caste of Hindu warriors and kings (known as “kshatriyas”).

Through some 250 objects from Indian courtly life, most never before seen outside of Jodphur, the exhibition illuminates how the Rathores acquired and commissioned objects amidst these cross-cultural exchanges to leverage patronage, diplomacy, matrimonial alliances, trade, and conquest.

Drawn primarily from the collections of the Mehrangarh Museum Trust and the private collections of the royal family of Jodhpur, the exhibition marks the first time that most of these treasures—including paintings, decorative arts and furniture, tents, canopies, carpets, textiles, and weapons—will be seen outside of their palace setting at Mehrangarh Fort and the first time they will travel abroad. 

Peacock in the Desert is the result of a landmark partnership, marking the first time the Mehrangarh Museum Trust has shared so many of the treasured objects of their collection,” commented Gary Tinterow, MFAH director.

“We are deeply honored and grateful to be the first U.S. organization to present this show, and for the opportunity to provide visitors this unprecedented experience of India’s rich cultural history.”


Tickets for this exhibit range from $18-23. Children 12 and under, Free.

MFAH is located at 1001 Bissonnet Street. For more information, call 713-639-7300; TDD/TYY for the hearing-impaired, 713-639-7390, or visit www.mfah.org.

Photo credit: mfah