In this dazzling royal procession, Maharana Bhim Singh (r. 1778-1828) rides across his kingdom, Mewar, on horseback. Richly bejeweled and tattooed, with his horse’s reins in one hand and a hookah mouthpiece in the other, Bhim Singh deftly projects an image of power combined with pleasure and comfort. The leashed cheetah and falcon seem to be merely part of the large entourage arrayed around the ruler, which also contains men bearing royal standards and insignia, including a black solar disk with a gold sun in the center, a symbol of the once-proud Sisodia clan of Mewar.
The magnificence of the scene belies the fact that Bhim Singh was actually a weak ruler in a succession of ineffectual leaders. Mewar had once been considered the strongest Rajput state because of its lengthy resistance to the Mughal emperors, but in 1818 Bhim Singh was forced to sign a treatey with the British, accepting their protection.
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