The AGO's Maharaja Online

Official teachers' resource for the Art Gallery of Ontario's Maharaja: The Splendor of India's Royal Courts exhibition, which is up until April 3, 2011. Learn about some of the artifacts in the exhibition, and engage in a dialogue relating ancient artworks to contemporary life.

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Paintings of Pastimes

A woman flying a kite. c. 1700-1800 opaque watercolour on paper Victoria & Albert Museum, London © V&A Images / Victoria and Albert Museum, London

  • Nazar paintings showed women spending time doing their favourite things.
  • If you were in one of these paintings, what types of activities would you be doing? What would these activities say to your loved ones about you? What symbols would you use to express your feelings?

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A Powerful Woman

Chand Bibi of Bijapur shooting with her ladies. c. 1750 opaque watercolour on paper. Victoria & Albert Museum, London © V&A Images / Victoria and Albert Museum, London

  • Chand Bibi was a rare case for women in the ruling classes at her time, and even rarer in the general population of India in the 16th century.
  • Hunting or playing sports, learning to play musical instruments, going shopping or even taking a walk on your own, going to school, even reading, were not considered appropriate pursuits for girls and women.
  • Imagine what it would be like to not have any power over what you do, what you wear, or even who or when you marry. What makes a woman powerful?

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