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Displays of Power: Multiple Registers of Kingship and Power in the Murals of Mysore Rangamahal
February 21 @ 4:00 pm - 5:30 pmFree
The Center for the Study of Hindu Traditions presents a talk by Professor Caleb Simmons, Department of Religious Studies, University of Arizona.
DISPLAYS OF POWER: MULTIPLE REGISTERS OF KINGSHIP AND POWER IN THE MURALS OF THE MYSORE RAṄGAMAHAL
Time: Thursday, February 21, 4:00 pm
Venue: 117 Anderson Hall
The display of non-military, modalities of power within courtly productions was central to the negotiation of kingship within the early colonial period in India. One of the most prevalent forms of the exhibition of power in Mysore and many similar kingdoms throughout India were the visual arts, including mural paintings, illustrated manuscripts, and paperboard paintings. Visual media are an open but subtle means to critique colonial authority and to present a different perspective on power that was rooted in Indian understandings of sovereignty. In this talk, I discuss the visual culture of Mysore kingdom of south India during the reign of Krishnaraja Wodeyar III (1799-1868) and how his court employed images to display an alternative to colonial hegemony. I show how these images make legible a visual discourse that was instrumentalized in an attempt to shape political and theological ideology in colonial Mysore. To do so, I focus on the large mural complex that is contained in the Mysore Rangamahal (Hall of Color) as an exemplary production of this display of non-militaristic power for the colonized king.
Dr. Caleb Simmons (Ph.D. in Religion, University of Florida) is an Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Arizona. He specializes in religion in South Asia, especially Hinduism. His book Devotional Sovereignty: Kingship and Religion in India, 1782-1868(Oxford University Press, forthcoming) examines how the late early modern/early colonial court of Mysore re-envisioned notions of kingship, territory, and religion, especially its articulations through devotion. He is currently working on a second monograph, Singing the Goddess into Place: Folksongs, Myth, and Situated Knowledge in Mysore, India that examines popular local folksongs that tell the mythology of Mysore’s Chamundeshwari and her consort Nanjundeshwara. He also edited (with Moumita Sen and Hillary Rodrigues) and contributed to Nine Nights of the Goddess: The Navarātri Festival in South Asia(SUNY Press, 2018) a collected volume that focuses on various aspects of the important festival of Navaratri.