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Rajasthan- Houses and Men Book Review

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“Man builds houses not only for shelter,but also to define and show himself to others. In this sense, the architecture he produces is the best indicator of how he perceives his world. Architecture which is a measure of the complexity, the maturity, and the health of a given society; architecture which serves to interpret the nature of the relationships established between the inhabitants of a specific environment; architecture which remains frozen in time, a visible object after other cultural phenomena have either become extinct or else evolved into other unrecognizable forms. Architecture which allows us to directly observe the difference as well as the lasting relation between what there was and what there is at present.”-Maka Abraham, from the introduction

I love picture books. I love picture books that take as their theme photographs from various places, landscapes, and people from the far corners of this planet. I dream into such photograph books, and easily find myself floating in the sea of imaginary travel. The romance of travel is never so poingent than while dreaming about it.

Eternal Rest- from Rajasthan: Houses and Men

The book Rajasthan: Houses and Men is the photographic outpouring of a journey through the Rajasthan by the architect, Tito Dalmau. He takes as his theme the ways that people interact with their environment through architecture and demonstrates this with his camera. Dalmau’s mission was to show, in photographs, the Rajasthan, its ancient buidings, and its modern people moving together as a unified whole that defeats the bounds of linear time. Past and present collide smoothly in this book of photographs that you really can dream into.

[adsense]The Rajasthan, or Rajaputna, is in the large state in the north western corner of India. It takes up an area from the edge of Uttar Pradesh in the east, to the Pakistani border in the west, all the way to the Punjab in the north. This is an area of the world full of ancient Maharaja palaces and palisades, castles and fortresses; this was the region through which the old Silk Road passed into India, and where nomads still walk the stark, naked desert.

In the introduction to this book, Maka Abraham writes that, “From ancient times until the beginning of the nineteenth century it was the natural route traversed by all migratory peoples, invading armies and trade caravans bearing silk and spices that penetrated the Indian subcontinent . . .Within the vast expanse of this arid landscape, periodically swept by terrible sandstorms, a rich mixture of stratified, overlapping or even rival subcultures- nomads, semi-nomads, farmers, urban dwellers- coexist and interact, woven into the beauty of a gigantic and wonderful tapestry.” It is this wonderful tapestry of landscape, architecture, and culture that Tito Dalmau sought to capture within his camera lens.

The Temple of Ranakpur- from Rajasthan: Houses and Men

I feel that it is a touch difficult to anaylize the skill of a photographer base on their photographs of India. In point, almost any where you snap your camera shutter in this extremely beautiful country will present an interesting photo. India is a photographer’s dream, as it is a splendor of color, ruins, texture, and excitement. A person can literally look at a random photo of India for hours, and still not be able to grasp its full depth. In regard to this fact, I feel that Tito Dalmau’s Rajasthan photographs do go beyond the ordinary pale of India photography.

While it is my impression that it is not very difficult to take an interesting photograph in India, I do feel that it is a little challenging to know what to keep in, and what to cut out, of the picture. It seems as if Dalmau’s view finder was laced with razor edges as he cut and sliced through ancient buildings in order to show the basic building blocks of the architecture he wished to put on display. It is my impression that his intention was not only to capture interesting images, but to show the casual relationship between humans, their environment, and the structures they build to live in. After looking closely through Rajasthan: Houses and Men, I feel as if Tito Dalmau accomplished this objective.

Rajasthan: Houses and Men is a good book to dream into. The only draw back to this book is that it costs $50, and if I did not get a promotional copy I would not ever have been able to afford it. So, if you have a few extra dollars laying around, and want a nice looking book to put on your coffee table to show your guests in an effort to make conversation at your dinner dates, then this is a good book for you. I sat around with my family for a couple hours the other night just talking about the photographs. Photographs from India inherently provoke conversation.

For ordering information go to Consortium Book Sales and Distribution or write to sales@cbsd.com

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Filed under: Books, India, Photography

About the Author:

Wade Shepard is the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. He has been traveling the world since 1999, through 76 countries. He is the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China, and contributes to Forbes, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3053 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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