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Jaswant Thada, Jodhpur

     A Jaswant Thada was built in the early 1900's as a memorial to Jaswant Singh II, 33rd Rathore ruler of Jodhpur, Rajasthan, India. It is half a mile from Mehrengarh Fort in Jodhpur. This photograph, taken around 9:00 a.m. on December 31st, 1997, by one of Mr. Diora's assistants (Mr. Diora is the semi-offical visual chronicler of the Court of Marwar a.k.a. Jodhpur), depicts the current Maharaja of Jodhpur, Gaj Singh II, on his 50th birthday along with his entourage. I am at the foot of the steps in a tan coat with my back to the camera (in front of the man with the light blue pants) and my own video camera framed over the shoulder of Mr. Diora who is taking the primary photograph of the posing ritual. Part of my work was to document the documenters, that is, the indigenous representations of the rituals and festivals surrounding the Maharaja's 50th birthday celebration. These included posing rituals which have their own history parallel to the histories of the other rituals of the court. Behind my right shoulder, my colleague Bruce Broce, also a graduate student at Temple, holds a radio receiver high in the air while recording the small talk surrounding the Maharaja as everyone puts on their photo faces and assumes their postures. What has been translated so far of the audio is a rich tapestry of formal talk and informal joke telling and commentary

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