What We Are Reading Today: The Place of Many Moods

What We Are Reading Today: The Place of Many Moods
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Updated 06 October 2020

What We Are Reading Today: The Place of Many Moods

What We Are Reading Today: The Place of Many Moods

Author: Dipti Khera

In the long 18th century, artists from Udaipur, a city of lakes in northwestern India, specialized in depicting the vivid sensory ambience of its historic palaces, reservoirs, temples, bazaars, and durbars. As Mughal imperial authority weakened by the late 1600s and the British colonial economy became paramount by the 1830s, new patrons and mobile professionals reshaped urban cultures and artistic genres across early modern India. The Place of Many Moods explores how Udaipur’s artworks—monumental court paintings, royal portraits, Jain letter scrolls, devotional manuscripts, cartographic artifacts, and architectural drawings—represent the period’s major aesthetic, intellectual, and political shifts. Dipti Khera shows that these immersive objects powerfully convey the bhava—the feel, emotion, and mood—of specific places, revealing visions of pleasure, plenitude, and praise. These memorialized moods confront the ways colonial histories have recounted Oriental decadence, shaping how a culture and time are perceived.