MAHARANI

India has a long and rich jewellery tradition. A strong tradition, that has undergone little change over the centuries. With the development of photography in India from half the 19th century, these traditions have been made visible for a wider audience on the sub-continent and beyond.

With the presence of the British, photography came to India around 1840. British photographers, often employed by the government, captured historical sites all over the country, as part of the Archeological Survey of India, established in 1861, making photography vital for this large survey. At the turn of the 20thcentury the demand for ‘commercial’, ‘portrait’ photography grew and photo studios opened in various cities across the country. One of the most noted studios was the studio of Lala Deen Dayal (1844-1905, famously known as Raja Deen Dayal) who grew to be the appointed court photographer of the 6thNizam of Hyderabad.

Lala Deen Dayal (1844-1905)

It where the different royal families who requested their portrait being taken. We see the depiction of these important royals as very western, seated or standing behind a chair for example. All this of course very much influenced by Victorian Britain.

These photographs, spanning more than a century, give a rare but most of all detailed insight in the way men, women and children would dress and adorn themselves. Photography that we use for reference and historical background in all that we do.

In Fall 2018 we realized the exhibition ‘Maharani’ a presentation of traditional Indian jewellery from our heritage collection alongside selected historical photographs on loan from the collection of the Museum of Art and Photography (MAP), Bangalore and made possible by the Bernadette van Gelder Foundation, at het Noordbrabants Museum in our hometown ‘s-Hertogenbosch.

The selected photographs depicted Maharani’s; royal women who played an important part in the lives of their people, who have been rulers, who have achieved great political success, in a time where female empowerment was an even smaller part of Indian culture and society then today.

We were particularly honored that internationally awarded photo journalist Mr Vincent Menzel joined us at the inaugural diner to share his knowledge and eye! Not only did he share with us and our guests his view on the depiction of these royal women, he also shared his own photography, of our own royal family, the then Queen Beatrix and Prince Claus on their state visit to India on 1981, which Mr. Menzel covered at the time.

Queen Beatrix and Prince Klaus, Udaipur, State visit to India, 1981
Photography: Vincent Menzel

In 2019 Van Gelder Indian Jewellery launched the Contemporary Collection – Jodha Bai. This collection draws from the drive, creative power and many accomplishments of strong women. The history of fierce Rajput women has always been an inspiration to us.

Jodha Bai, named after one of India’s first, strongest and most influential female royal thought leaders, the Rajput Princess Jodha Bai. This Rajput Princes was equal to men in love, life and battle and these strong traits are translated in the designs: strong, distinctive lines, an expressive appearance, detail and enamel work, with color use inspired by the tradition of North India.

“We have always felt deeply inspired by the drive, creative power and many accomplishments of strong women in life and business and we are extremely privileged to be standing on the shoulders of strong entrepreneurial women in our family. India’s past and present also knows many examples of these strong female role models who made their marks in various shapes and forms in Indian society.
With the inspiration and design of the Jodha Bai collection we aim to honour the importance and value of these strong women.”

– Fleur & Noëlle