National Geographic : 1940 Dec
In the Realms of the Maharajas Toes Help as Craftsmen Weave Pure Gold and Silver Thread Chief among the cottage industries fostered by the Nizam of Hyderabad is the ancient one of weaving. A technical institute trains artisans in making and embroidering fine fabrics, dyeing cloth and carpets, silver working, and producing bidri wear-an alloy of zinc, lead, and copper inlaid with silver or gold. His Highness' camel corps and camel artillery, ably commanded by the Maharaja in person during the first World War. There were Indian plays, and a renowned dancer, Gopin ath, had been imported from far-off Travan core to entertain the guests. One evening we were given opportunity to see the famous Bikaner fire dancers. Lashing themselves into a religious frenzy, they danced on white-hot coals and even ran around with them in their mouths. Every evening there were fireworks; and the four-day celebration culminated in a State banquet where 300 ate from solid gold plates with solid gold tableware. Before the banquet Peggy was presented to a beautiful child, the ten-year-old Raja of Mudhol. "I have the pleasure of taking you in to dinner, Mrs. Thaw," he gravely informed her. With long, dark, curling lashes set in a face of pale ivory and framed by an orange tur- ban, he did not quite reach Peggy's shoulder. He chose the most suitable of the eight kinds of curry for her; and, perceiving her to be in a draft, imperiously ordered the attendants to bring her wrap immediately. He exchanged hunting experiences with her, though his were largely those of his father who had died the year before, leaving him a Raja at the age of nine. "I hope that you will do me the honor of hunting in my country, as my guest," he remarked with all the aplomb of a grown man. After dinner the Maharaja invited the ladies to another part of the palace to hear one of his favorite singers. The girl, lovely in the orange colors of Bikaner, sat at his feet with drums and lute for the accompaniment. When first heard, Indian music appears discordant and monotonous; but after the ear becomes attuned it takes on a definite char acter and charm. One becomes fascinated with the accents in the rhythm.