When Mewar’s Gavri Traveled To The National Capital

Rajasthan is a state of culture, heritage and royalty, and primary among the attributes of the state, is the kingdom of Mewar, the place where festivals, tribes, rituals and folk mingle together to form a diverse view of culture and lineage.

An American photographer, Waswo X. Waswo, has done much to promote the regional culture of this land. His latest effort, in collaboration with local photographer and artist Rajesh Soni, has been the book and various exhibitions titled “Gavri Dancers”.

Waswo works in the vintage studio portrait mode, making images with painted backdrops at his studio in the Village of Varda. He then prints black and white photographs that are hand-brushed with colour by his long-time collaborator, Rajesh Soni, a third-generation Udaipur photo hand-colourist.

A recent show has just opened close to New Delhi, presented by Gallery Latitude 28 in the large galleries of Museo Camera, Centre for the Photographic Arts in Gurugram. The exhibition is called “Gauri Dancers: The Opera of Mewar”.

Before diving into the event, let’s reconcile what exactly Gavri is.


  • In the versatile land of Mewar, prevails a tribal dance form known as Gavri, Gavari or Gauri.
  • The folk dance is treated as a festival by the Bheel tribe of Mewar.
  • They perform and celebrate the dance ritual with full joy coupled with spirituality.
  • The festival is significantly celebrated on the next day of Shravani Purnima or Raksha Bandhan or Rakhi Purnima.
  • Young boys and men of the tribe dress as females and perform the dance form, village to village, telling stories through their folklores and tales.


  • The art is being presented by Gallery Latitude 28 in the large galleries of Museo Camera, Centre for the Photographic Arts in Gurugram.
  • The exhibition commenced from September 17, 2021 and will close on October 17, 2021.
  • The display of such extensive documentation of a little-know tradition to the Delhi crowd attracted and drew the attention of New Delhi’s art community and high society.
  • Waswo even brought a group of farmers from the village of Boro Walla Madri to make the traditional Gavri elephant within the gallery, symbolically marking it as a ritual performance.
  • The elephant was made up of grass straws, three cots, bangles, and other village materials.
  • The tradition of Gavri is almost unknown known outside Mewar. The seventy-five photographs in this exhibition and book are beginning to change that.
  • Each of the 75 black and white photographs you’ll find in the gallery have been patiently hand-tinted by Rajesh Soni, a well-known artist from Udaipur.


Rajesh Soni is from Udaipur and is a third-generation photo hand-colourist, primarily known for his abilities to hand paint digital photographs. His grandfather was Prabu Lal Verma, a court photographer to the Maharana Bhupal Singh of Mewar.

Waswo X. Waswo was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in the U.S.A., and studied photography in both his hometown and Florence, Italy. He has lived and travelled in India for over twenty years and has made his home in Udaipur from the past thirteen. Waswo is known as an artist who collaborates with local artists and miniaturists. Waswo X. Waswo’s series on Gavri began over ten years ago. His style is to capture portraiture with natural light and an eye for detail. Though he shoots his portraits in a studio, he does his best to capture the naturalistic moment.   

In 2019 the duo of Waswo X. Waswo and Rajesh Soni created the first full-sized hardcover book on Gauri Dancers, published by Mapin, India.

When Mewar’s Gavri travelled to the national capital, it was definitely a proud moment. The collaborators from our city are on a mission to promote and elaborate the art and culture of Mewar throughout India and the world. Amidst the times when we are losing touch with our history and culture, this exhibition has reminded us to stick to our roots and be proud citizens of Mewar.


Tinted by Tradition – Waswo X. Waswo & Rajesh Soni

City Palace Museum Exhibition

Pramod Kumar KG of New Delhi based museum consultancy Eka curates an exhibition of Hand-colored Photographs at Bhagwat Prakash Photo Gallery inside the premises of City Palace Museum to revive the synapse between painting and photography.  Scheduled to be inaugurated on 25th of this month at 09:35 am, “Tinted by Tradition” will continue till March 31, 2012.

This exposition puts up the age old tradition of adding a layer of color to the printed photographic image that finds its birth in the early years of the invention of modern photography in 1839. It displays the works of Waswo X. Waswo and Rajesh Soni that has been inspired from the large oeuvre of work maintained at Pictorial Archives of Maharanas of Mewar. Waswo’s digitally printed studio portraits have been hand coloured by Rajesh Soni, an artist with his roots in Udaipur, whose grandfather Prabhu Lal Verma was a well known artist-photographer in the court of Maharana Bhupal Singh. Waswo says of his work, “In Udaipur I hoped to revisit the territory of late 19th century and 20th century photography, both paying homage to, and also playfully mocking, the genre as practiced by foreign ethnographers and Indian Studio portraitists alike.”

City Palace Museum has always caught hold of many eyes with its holdings of rich culture and archives that take you in a journey to the past, a journey inside the royalties and culture of Mewar kings. The Bhagwat Prakash Photo Gallery was established in the Zenana Mehal present within the courtyards of City Palace Museum in March 2009 that endures the Pictorial Archives of the Maharanas of Mewar. These arrays of photographic materials are made available for research scholars, and through various exhibitions for the tourists visiting museum and also for wider community.