MFAH Presents “Peacock in the Desert”: The Royal Arts of Jodhpur


“Peacock in the Desert” benefactor Dr. Durga Agarwal (left), MFAH Director Gary Tinterow, MFAH Trustee Sushila Agrawal, Counsel General Dr. Anupam Ray and Dr. Amit Ray.

By Pramod Kulkarni

HOUSTON: An opportunity to learn about one fascinating aspect of India’s exceptional culture will soon be available for Houstonians courtesy of the Museum of Fine Arts Houston (MFAH).

Titled “Peacock in the Desert”, the exhibit will display centuries of royal treasures from Jodhpur in Rajasthan for the first time in an epic presentation.


Folio 53 from Shiva Rashasya (left) and Lord Shiva on his vimana (aircraft), Jodhpur collection, c.1527. Opaque watercolor on and gold on paper, Mahrangarh Museum Trust.

Scheduled to open on March 4 until August 19, the exhibit features masterpieces and relics—never before seen beyond palace walls—that illustrate the history and artistic legacy of the Rathore dynasty.

A select group of Indo-Americans had an opportunity on Monday, February 5 to preview a presentation of the exhibit from MFAH Director Gary Tinterow himself at the home of Counsel General Anupam and Dr. Amit Ray.


Gulabpash (rosewater sprinkler), Lucknow c. 1850, silver repousse work and enameling (left) and Mahadol (palaquin), Gujarat c. 1700-1730, gilded wood, glass, copper and ferrous alloy, both from Mehrangarh Museum Trust.

“This is an opportunity to connect your children and grandchildren to their heritage,” suggested CG Ray. “There is no better way of engaging them to what is good, exciting and magical in India’s heritage.”

The exhibition showcases nearly four centuries of artistic creations from the kingdom of Marwar-Jodhpur, in the northwestern state of Rajasthan. Lavishly made ceremonial objects; finely crafted arms and armor; sumptuous jewels; intricately carved furnishings; a monumental 17th-century court tent, and more outline the dynamic history of the Marwar-Jodhpur region and the Rathore dynasty that ruled it for more than 700 years.


An official portrait of Maharajah Gaj Singh, who cooperated fully with the MFAH in creating the “Peacock in the Desert” exhibit.

Special objects of interest will include Maharajah Gaj Singh’s silver Rolls Royce and his personal 1944 L-5 Sentinel aircraft.

In his presentation, Tinterow said he personally paid a visit to Jodhpur and spent time with the Maharajah (affectionately called Babji) and received full cooperation from the Maharajah and his Mehrangarh Museum Trust in developing the exhibit. “MFAH even paid for the restoration of the beautiful palaquin,” explained Timterow.

Lead Underwriters for “Peacock in the Desert” are Nidhika and Pershant Mehta. Additional support from the Indian community came from Medha and Shashank Karve;  Sushila and Dr. Durga D. Agrawal; Paul and Manmeet Likhari; Jag and Pinder Gill; Dr. and Mrs. Srinivasa Madhavan; Usha and Kumara Peddamatham; Dr. Mani and Anuradha Subramanian; Rama and Geetha Rau Yelundur; Mr. and Mrs. Sundaresan Bala; Monjula and Ravi Chidambaram, Shantha Raghuthaman and Miwa S. Sakashita and Dr. John R. Stroehlein.
An MFAH trustee, Mrs. Agrawal urged the gathering  at the CG’s home to encourage their friends, relatives, children and grandchildren to attend the exhibit and experience the grandeur of the royal arts of Rajasthan.

MFAH offers another avenue for Indo-Americans to support the exhibit by attending a gala dinner at the museum on Friday, March 2. A table for 10 at the gala is available for $25,000. Individual benefactor seating is available for $2,500 and young patrons can join for $750. For additional information, call (713) 639-7581 or email
Presented concurrently with “Peacock in the Desert” is another exhibit focusing on India: “Modernism on the Ganges: Raghubir Singh Photographs”, on view through June 3. The retrospective features work by visionary Indian photographer Raghubir Singh spanning the 1960s to 1990s.