Friday, December 26, 2008

The Pink City Colour Story


Photography by: Nanki Nath, NID Project, November 2007

During 16th century, Jaipur was painted white, but the glare was too strong to view design, clarity and distinction between places around. It was Maharaja Ram Singh who tried colouring all city streets differently—green, yellow, pink and so on. Finally pink was adopted for the whole city. This pink is variously described as the “sandstone pink” or “honey pink”, or “deep oleander pink” (by Maharani Gayatri Devi), “crushed strawberry tint” (by Mark Twain in 1897). But, it’s nothing but a simple coating of red earth coloured of a village north of Kanota. The geru (terracotta), the colour is inevitable since to reduce time and cost of construction, all the major
buildings are made not of dressed stone, but of rubble, which had to be rendered/ painted (to protect it from light, rains and storms). Geru imitates the colour of region’s sandstone, mostly used notably in the Mughal imperial cities like Delhi, Agra and Fatehpur Sikri, as Jai Singh established his capital as an lternative power base to the Mughal authority, the design ad to accomplish this ambition. Thus, the colour wash completes the illusion and meaningfully eludes “imperial” look.

Stone here used to complements the colour wash.
Material used: Quartzite stone (imported from stone quarries in Jodhpur)


The colour is very mixed, but has a faint pinkish hue. Jaipur actually didn’t have the best quarries of both sandstone/marble, these areas were then controlled by Jodhpur due to their scarce availability in Jaipur. The use of rubble from the adjacent hills facilitated the building process by reducing the transportation costs, and the necessary application of cosmetic plaster was possible.

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