National Geographic : 1948 Oct
429Feudal Splendor Lingers inRajputana Only men were present because ofstrict ob servance of purdah atCity Palace. The dancing girls, spectacularly clad in saris of brilliant hues, emerged toentertain us. An Indian orchestra, with ancient sitars, tumbas, and other native instruments, fur nished weird music. Each girl wore a tika, aspot ofpowder, on her forehead. In bygone days thetika stood for caste or subcaste. Today itisadecora tive formality. Thetika usually ismade from a mixture of powders and spices, and the customary color is red. However, itscolor often is changed to match thewearer's sari to black, or orange,orperhaps toasmall piece of gold or silver tinsel. Palms of the dancers' hands and soles of their feet were dyedred. For mascara they used a black paste called kajal, with anherb like scent. Their perfume was attar ofroses. The morning afterthe festival theMaha raja arranged an elephant fight and atiger fight for his guests. The former was held intheelephant corral within the palace grounds. From ourseat in the tower we couldsee anangry elephant chained at the farend ofthecorral. Just below us was another. But when they were released they refused tofight, despite prod ding and the settingoff offirecrackers. Finally the mahouts, bearing aneffigy ofa man, advanced towards oneelephant. The beast charged andthey fled, leaving the dummy behind. The elephant seized it, tossed it high into the airwith histrunk, then trampled it when itfell, giving arough idea of what would happen toaman who gotin its way. This infuriated thebeast sufficiently to attack the otherelephant, and they butted each other for a few moments and entwined their trunks. However, their ardor soon cooled (page 415). More spectacularwas thetiger fight, held in the Jaipur menagerie onaman-made island surrounded by a moat. We lined up in safety along theouter edge of the moat as a man-eater, captured inthe jungle the night before, was released inthe arena. Then anothertiger, which had been in captivity for a fewweeks, also was released. When he spotted the newcomer hepromptly jumped into the moat and swam around vigorously (page 416). Finally, tiring ofthis, heemerged and was immediately attacked bytheman-eater. A furious and bloodyfight ensued, butitwas over in a few moments asthenewcomer found the neck of his opponent and killed him. Then a small Indian sloth bear was re leased in the arena. The man-eater had tasted blood and rushed atonce totheattack. But tomyamazement, thelittle bear rose onhishind legs, growled ferociously, and slapped outwith hissmall paws. The tiger pulled upinsurprise. Four times thetiger returned totheattack; four times thelittle bear engaged inhisdes perate bluff, and hewon. The tiger, after its last attempt, turned tail, climbed high into a plane tree, and refused todescend. The little bear was unharmed. Before dinner wewere guests ataninter national polo match (pages 444 and 445). One ofthepolo guests was theJam Sahib, Maharaja ofNavanagar, oneoftheworld's foremost gem experts. Inhishonor theState jewels ofJaipur later were tobedisplayed forhisinspection ataluncheon. Tomydelight, Iwas invited toattend. Arriving atthepalace with acompanion afewmoments before theappointed time, wewere escorted toanornate building, open onallfour sides, formerly acouncil chamber. Weentered alarge room with araised platform atoneend. Ontheplatform stood abigtable, atleast 40feet long, with rich coverings. Iimmediately assumed that this was theluncheon table and that thefunction towhich wehad been invited was alarge and formal affair. Aturbaned servant armed with asword stood atthehead ofthetable. The Author Sees aKing's Ransom Asother guests, including theJam Sahib, arrived, wecrossed theroom and ascended several steps totheplatform. Asthetopofthetable came within eyelevel Igasped with astonishment. Definitely noluncheon was tobeserved here. For arranged onthetable indazzling array laytherarest jewels oftheState ofJaipur-literally aking's ransom ofsome 150pieces. The rare sight beggars adequate descrip tion. There were several superb katars, orRajput daggers, with finest steel blades and handles inlaid with gold and precious stones; several curved Rajput swords, jewel-encrusted from toptobottom, oneapresent from theMogul Emperor Akbar; an18th-century cane, concealing asword, which was decorated infamous Jaipur enamel and goldwork with miniature scenes oftiger and leopard hunts. Half adozen pearl necklaces, each with from sixtoeight ropes ofmatched pearls, were ondisplay, together with flashing diamond necklaces inwhich thestones were thesize ofarobin's eggs. Near them layseveral diamond-studded clasps forturbans, embel lished with long egret feathers.