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Amisha Desai

Rajasthan: A land of visual splendor

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The royal state of Rajasthan is a visual splendor and that is exactly what Paulin Van Lynden, the author of the book ‘Rajasthan‘, has tried to communicate to her readers.

Wrapped in the blue shades of the falling night I listened to the sounds of dusk: the cries of the peacocks in the neem trees over my head, the silvery sound of bells for evening service at the nearby temple. And from inside the houses, sparsely lit by naked bulbs, came women’s voices and the smells of cooking on wood fires. An evening like this is a time for stories… of love and courage, of legendary heroes and their brave horses, camel caravans loaded with spices, jewelry, and brocades. Modern anecdotes too, with often a similar flavour and accompanied by lots of laughter. In this land of contrasts, there is a mystery that gives significance to the smallest and the simplest thing. More than anything I wished to show the delight I have found in a way of life which, often with very little means, still results in great beauty – Paulin Van Lynden

However surreal it may sound, the above is a common sight in the mesmerizing, mythical and strangely secret region of Rajasthan. This book unfolds an unwritten, unspoken story through a sequence of themes. A story the reader would partially form of his own accord as he progresses through this brilliant unapologetic, 320 page visual treat. Through her decidedly aesthetic approach, Paulin opens to us a world of unknown beauty imbued with form and color. She shares her wanderings through a spontaneously shot series of age-old traditions, art and crafts as well as gives us a glimpse into the unbelievably rich culture and history of the region. Paulin also walks us through the local textiles, everyday village life and everything else that makes this region so exuberant and attractive to one and all through her stunning photography.

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Paulin Van Lynden is a Dutch/French photographer, author and publisher based in the Netherlands. After receiving a masters degree in Political Science at the University of Louvain, Belgium, Pauline was taught art-bookbinding at the Ecole de la Cambre in Brussels. The author subsequently went to the art school in Holland with a focus on drawing and painting. Her repeated trips to India since 1988, after completing the art school program, led to her collection of notes, pictures and photographs. Out of which came this book, her first, on Rajasthan.

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Even in the few words written in the book, Pauline ties up all her photographs into a beautiful mystical story for each individual section that visually reveals itself through several pages that follow. One almost feels swept away to this magical destination as though the stories are happening in real time. This book is an enthralling walk through the culturally rich region of Rajasthan through the lens of an amazing photographer and story teller. Simply put, if you like reading short dreamy stories of culture and color, we think this book will be more than well worth your time.

 Images from the book.

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