Rajas, Nawabs & Firangees: Reflections on the Past

Catalogue of Indo-French exhibition "Rajas, Nawabs & Firangees: Reflections on the Past" tracing the journey of 12 Indian rulers and their French-speaking officers released at Residence of France.

New Delhi, 12 February 2021

The Ambassador of France to India, H.E. Mr Emmanuel Lenain, today released the sumptuously produced catalogue of the Indo-French exhibition, “Rajas, Nawabs, Firangees: Reflections on the Past” at the Residence of France.

Curated by Dr Samuel Berthet, the exhibition presented vignettes of courtly life, representations of French travellers, and sacred texts in the form of rare manuscripts and paintings. Jointly organized by the Alliance française de Delhi, the United Service Institution of India, and the National Museum of Delhi – where it attracted thousands of visitors – it ran from 15th November to 7th December 2019.

The catalogue of the exhibition publishes never-before-seen manuscripts, paintings and artefacts that offer glimpses of Indian court life through the eyes of French-speaking officers – a few of whom acquired high military positions and were endowed with jagirs. Many prominent Indian rulers and French-speaking officers commissioned paintings of themselves, which could be seen in Indian courts and in Europe.

This Indo-French project opens a historical window onto the lives of 12 Indian rulers and French-speaking officers serving under them between 1750 and 1850, covering large swathes of India, including present-day Kerala, Madurai, Hyderabad, Bengal, Awadh, Delhi, Rajasthan and Poona.

As well as this, the catalogue also illustrates European themes in Indian court paintings and books on Indian culture, flora and fauna, history and coinage in French, commissioned by French publishers for a French readership, and illustrated by skilled Indian botanical illustrators, miniaturists and artists.

Finally, the book contains a selection from a wide variety of Indian sacred texts that are a part of the French National Library collection. As well as various aspects of Hinduism, the collection comprises manuscripts on various religions, including Islam, Buddhism, Tantrism, Jainism and Zoroastrianism.

Releasing the exhibition catalogue, Ambassador Emmanuel Lenain said, “I am delighted to release the catalogue of this highly successful exhibition, which presented a new perspective on Indo-French ties. It showed that the roots of the strategic partnership between our two countries can be traced back to a rich past and that, just like today, strategic relations in earlier days were also cultural relations. By publishing hitherto unseen archives and documents on Indo-French encounters, the catalogue makes precious, rare documents and illustrations available to a wide public.”


The exhibition was supported, among others, by: Godrej, Thales, the French Embassy and Institut Français in India, L’Opéra, Goyal Publishers, and the Network of Alliances Françaises in India.

About French Institute in India (IFI)

The French Institute in India (IFI) is the educational, scientific and cultural department of the Embassy of France in India. It facilitates academic and scientific exchange between higher institutes of learning and research, enables student mobility, and promotes French language and artistic and cultural partnerships. Cooperation between India and France takes place through a number of sectors: Arts & Culture, Books, Ideas, French Language & Education, the Study in France programme, Academic Partnerships, Science Technology, as well as Innovation and Multimedia.


About Alliance Francaises in India

The 14 Alliances Françaises across India are Indo-French cultural centres that are part of a worldwide network of associations. Founded more than 135 years ago, established in 133 countries, they welcome close to 500,000 learners every year. Enrolling at an Alliance Française in India is an opportunity to learn the French language, discover France and explore the unique character, diversity, history, heritage and gastronomy of the country, but also a place for cultural dialogues and exchanges.

Quality courses, a warm welcome, professionalism, innovative methods, cultural programmes, a friendly atmosphere – everything is in place to ensure that French learning becomes an unforgettable experience.


Last modified on 21/04/2022

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