While travelling in India, I became fascinated with the variety of patterns in its architecture. Historically, they’re mostly a legacy of the Sultanates and the Mughal Empire, and Islam’s tradition of non-figurative art. But interesting patterns can also be found in Jain, Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh and modern architecture, and also in natural forms.
These galleries collects all the photographs of patterns I took during my visit. I’m releasing these into the public domain. They are far from comprehensive, and others can be found in various places such as Wikimedia Commons.
Rajasthan retained a large degree of autonomy and aristocratic Hindu culture under the Mughals. Its art and architecture is therefore more figurative, and outside the scope of these galleries. However, Mughal influence can be seen, especially in the patterns of Amber Fort in Jaipur, below. Also, I couldn’t resist the peacocks, which are almost abstract in their kaleidoscopic exuberance.
When I was in India last year, I did a bit of experimenting with stereoscopy.
Stereoscopy is a technique for creating 3D images. By taking one photograph of a subject, then moving position very slightly to the left or right, and taking a second photograph of the same subject, you end up with a stereoscopic pair of pictures. This pair replicates the two slightly horizontally displaced versions of the world seen by each of your eyes. All you need to do then is place the two photographs side by side, and cross your eyes so that one eye is looking at one image, and the other eye is looking at the other one. Your brain then combines and interprets the two images in the way it normally does, to reproduce a 3D perception of the subject.
I used to play about with this technique when I was younger, and visiting some of the forts and ruins of India, I realised they might be particularly good for stereoscopy. I’ve just got around to editing the photos into pairs, so here they are.
It took about two hours for Jabar, my chauffeur and guide for the day, to drive us out to Kumbhalgarh. On the way we passed through the Aravalli region, where the scenery reminded me of California: hills of red-brown rock and scree, scattered trees, green irrigated fields in the valley. We passed the Banas River, and stopped to see a cattle-powered water wheel in action.
Cattle with painted horns turn the lever which brings up water from the well behind
This was all reasonably interesting, but only a teaser for the main show, Kumbhalgarh. I was worried that after covering most of Rajasthan, I might be all forted out and unable to appreciate it, but I needn’t have worried. Kumbhalgarh is absolutely stonking.