Indian Decor

Stonehurst, where the Jenkins were living in 1914, had been furnished by its former owners in a style reflecting their prior service in India. “In the hall the brass gong was suspended from the horn or tusk of some animal;

Indian Carved Elephant Table Gong 18” wide and 7” deep and 14” high 1900s antique brass formerly for sale at http://www.antiques-atlas.com/

Indian Carved Elephant Table Gong 18” wide and 7” deep and 14” high, 1900s antique brass, formerly for sale at http://www.antiques-atlas.com/

 

in the dining-room hung water-colours of the Ganges at Benares [now Varanasi], the Old Fort at Calcutta, the Taj Mahal;

The City of Benares James Diston, ~1890 watercolor, 26 x 19 in for sale (12/19/14) at http://www.onlinegalleries.com/

The City of Benares
James Diston, ~1890
watercolor, 26 x 19 in
for sale (12/19/14) at http://www.onlinegalleries.com/

The Old Fort, the Playhouse, Holwell's Monument from Views of Calcutta Thomas Daniell, 1786 Aquatint, ink on paper 18 x 23" photo public domain from Wikimedia Commnos

The Old Fort, the Playhouse, Holwell’s Monument from Views of Calcutta
Thomas Daniell, 1786
Aquatint, ink on paper
18 x 23″
photo public domain from Wikimedia Commons

The Taj Mahal Mughal, 19th century watercolor on paper 8 x 12 in Freer/Sackler Gallery, The Smithsonian

The Taj Mahal
Mughal, 19th century
watercolor on paper
8 x 12 in
Freer/Sackler Gallery, The Smithsonian

in the smoking room, a small revolving book case contained only four books: Marie Corelli’s Sorrows of Satan, St. John Clarke’s Never to the Philistines, an illustrated volume of light verse called Lays of Ind, a volume of coloured pictures of Sepoy uniforms;

Rotating Book Shelf Teak, twentieth century H 41 x W 24 x D 24 in Bangalore for sale (12/19/14) at www.phantom.hands.in

Rotating Book Shelf
Teak, twentieth century
H 41 x W 24 x D 24 in
Bangalore
for sale (12/19/14) at phantomhands.in

Sepoy Uniforms of British India, 1813 formerly on sale at phantonhands.in

Sepoy Uniforms of British India, 1813
formerly on sale at phantomhands.in

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

in the drawing-room, the piano was covered with  a Kashmiri shawl of some size and fine texture,

Hand Twill Tapestry Kashmiri Shawl ~ 1860 72 in square formerly for sale at http://carolynforbestextiles.com/

Hand Twill Tapestry Kashmiri Shawl ~ 1860
72 in square
formerly for sale at http://carolynforbestextiles.com/

 

upon which, in silver frames, photographs of the former owner of Stonehurst (wearing a pith helmet surmounted with a spike) and his family (flanked by Indian servants) had stood before being stowed away in a drawer.” [TKO 63 /61 ]

 

Winston Churchill with pith helmet serving with 4th Hussars in India, 1898 photo from www.swordforum.com

Winston Churchill with pith helmet
serving with 4th Hussars in India, 1898
photo from http://www.swordforum.com

British family with servants taken April 15, 1911 posted by Tahir Iqbal on Flickr.com Copyright,  All rights reserved

British family with servants
taken April 15, 1911
posted by Tahir Iqbal on Flickr.com
Copyright, All rights reserved

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Writing a century after this scene, many of the images that we find on the Internet are of objects that are displayed in museums or offered for sale. In contrast, much of the Stonehurst decor was probably kitsch rather than high art and would be unlikely to survive to the twenty-first century, just as Marie Corelli’s Sorrows of Satan was one of the most popular novels at the beginning of the twentieth century but is largely unknown today.

Powell provides a précis in a paragraph, summarizing volumes of cultural history. For those who want to continue to explore, please “look inside the book” Lays of Ind  (1837) by Aliph Cheem, a pseudonym for Walter Yeldham,  which is a collection of ‘exalted doggerel‘ about British India, accompanied by drawings that expand Powell’s collage of the Raj.

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