Conquest & Alliance: The Lal Dera (Red Tent) of “Peacock in the Desert” July 11, 2018

One of the most spectacular highlights of Peacock in the Desert: The Royal Arts of Jodhpur, India is the Lal Dera, or Red Tent. This intricate imperial tent is a colorful symbol of the Mughal conquest of India’s Marwar-Jodhpur kingdom.

Carefully installed for the exhibition, the tent’s canopy and back wall are from the original Lal Dera, which was made in the late 17th- or early-18th-century. It is similar to tents erected for rulers in encampments during military campaigns to match the splendor of royal residences. Red tents were reserved for rulers of the Mughal Empire, so the Lal Dera may have been captured from a Mughal camp by a rebellious maharaja.*

Did Shah Jahan, builder of the Taj Mahal, use this historical tent? Hit “play” to learn more from Mahrukh Tarapor and Karni Singh Jasol, co-curators of “Peacock in the Desert”; and Gary Tinterow, MFAH director.

“Peacock in the Desert: The Royal Arts of Jodhpur, India” is on view in the Law Building through August 19. Info and tickets

*Read more in “The Lal Dera in the Tradition of Indian Tentage” by Peter Alford Andrews, an essay in the exhibition catalogue.