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It’s the trip of a lifetime—a textile-based tour of colorful Rajasthan, India featuring more than 200 lush photographs depicting everyday life in one of the most vibrant regions in the world.

”Get lost in the beauty of the photographs in Patterns of India, a striking journey through the colorful Indian state of Rajasthan.”—BuzzFeed

Patterns of India is a visual experience that offers intimate insights into the diverse and richly hued Western Indian culture. Color is the thread that binds the vast country together, defining every aspect of life from religion and politics to food and dress. Organized by the five dominant colors royal blue, sandstone, marigold, ivory, and rose, this book explores how deeply color and pattern exist in a symbiotic relationship and are woven into every part of the culture. For instance, the fuchsia found in the draping fabric of a sari is matched by the vibrant chains of roses offered at temple, and the burnt orange spices in the marketplaces are reflected in the henna tattoos given to brides and wedding guests. While every color is imbued with meaning, it is often within the details of patterns that the full story comes to light.

Photographer and writer Christine Chitnis spent over a decade traveling through, getting to know, and falling in love with the intricate patterns of everyday Rajasthani life. With history and culture-based essays woven throughout the more than 200 stunning photographs of architecture, markets, cuisine, art, textiles, and everyday goings-on, Patterns of India captures the beauty and essence of this unique part of the world.

Review

“Simply marvelous! In this beautiful book, Christine provides a window through which we get to see the wonderful world of color and design that are emblematic to India and its people.” —Nik Sharma, James Beard Award and IACP Julia Child First Book Award finalist for Season: Big Flavors, Beautiful Food

Patterns of India transports me back to my visits to Delhi and Jaipur. I can almost smell the floral, dusty fragrance that I remember so well. The celebratory colors, intricate patterns, and vivid sensory experience of the country comes across so well in this beautiful book.” —Rebecca Atwood, textile and wallpaper designer and author of Living with Pattern and Living with Color
 
 “India is a place where the delight and brilliance of the colors, textures, and patterns immediately absorb you into the present moment.  Patterns of India is an inspiring celebration of one of the most visually compelling and engaging destinations for travelers and photographers, where every detail, from the mundane to the sacred, is a divine expression of ancient and modern artisanal mastery.” —Emily Nathan, photographer and author of My Tiny Atlas and founder of Tiny Atlas Quarterly
 
“Christine’s photography takes us on an incredible journey into the rich history of pattern and color in Rajasthan. She has conveyed the strength of the Rajasthani visual aesthetic so perfectly through her vivid imagery and thoughtful writing.  Patterns of India transports me right back to Rajasthan.” —Sana Javeri Kadri, founder of Diaspora Co.
 

Patterns of India is a vibrant love story. Christine’s passion for what is surely one of the most colorful countries on the planet is clear. She brilliantly captures the flow of daily life in the sensuous subcontinent and reveals the stories that lay embedded in India’s visual landscape.” —Fiona Caulfield, travel designer, travel writer, and author of the Love Travel Guides series

About the Author

Christine Chitnis is a writer and photographer who spent ten years traveling to India. She lives with her husband and three children in Providence, Rhode Island.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Introduction

While it is impossible to encapsulate a country as vast and culturally diverse as India, there is a tie that binds, weaving from the pink-tinged architecture of Jaipur to the shimmering Golden City of Jaisalmer. Color—in rich, vibrant hues defines every aspect of life in India, be it religion, politics, food, art, or dress. As a photographer, I was instantly drawn to its unique color wheel and especially intrigued by the way the same hues seem to echo throughout the country. The fuchsia draping fabric of a sari matches the vibrant chains of rose offerings at the mandir (Hindu temple). Burnt orange towers of spices in the marketplace are reflected in baskets of marigolds lining flower stalls. A field of dyed indigo fabric drying in the desert heat resonates with the brightly painted blue buildings of Jodhpur. Color and pattern exist in a symbiotic relationship. Pattern, when it is applied with detail and precision, can convey meaning and tell a story. Decorative motifs range from simple compositions of dots, lines, rings, and geometric patterns to more complex and meaningful designs that include elements drawn from village life and religious texts. This dynamic combination of color and pattern is most striking in the vibrant northwestern region of Rajasthan, India’s largest state.

Prior to India gaining independence from Great Britain in 1947, Rajasthan (Land of Kings) was a region comprising more than twenty princely states, a feudalist desert stronghold of royal affluence. The Rajputs, who rose to prominence in the area as early as the seventh century AD, were fierce warriors and zealously independent Hindus, and they successfully fended off waves of foreign invaders. When the imperial power in neighboring Delhi shifted in the sixteenth century to Akbar, the powerful Mughal sovereign who would gradually enlarge his empire to include nearly the  entire northern Indian subcontinent, many Rajput rulers formed military and marital alliances with him. By acknowledging Akbar as emperor, they were allowed to retain their ancestral territories. The era of stability and creativity that followed this fusion of Rajput and Mughal heritage, coupled with growing wealth and consistent court patronage, had a great impact on, and is reflected in, Rajasthan’s art and architecture: floral and organic patterns, wall paintings, and fluted pillars are trademarks of the Rajput style; stone inlay filigree, mirror-glass mosaic work, geometrical patterns, and the use of arches and domes speak to the Mughal influence.

Rajasthan is home to many of India’s famous landmarks; featured in this book are the Hawa Mahal, the Jaipur City Palace, the Amer Fort, the Mehrangarh Fort, the Umaid Bhawan Palace, and the Udaipur City Palace. Despite its bustling, modern cities and royal grandeur, more than 80 percent of its people live in rural areas and make their living through agriculture or livestock herding. Not far from the cities are villages seemingly untouched by modern times, where traditional arts and handicrafts, such as hand block printing, embroidery, and weaving, are kept alive.

My own travels through India have been deeply influenced by my husband Vijay’s familial connection to the country. Mangalore, a port city in the southwestern state of Karnataka, was home to Vijay’s mother’s family; his father’s family was from Kolhapur on the banks of the Panchganga River in the western state of Maharashtra. Both of his parents were raised in Bombay, but they spoke different languages and were raised with different religions—his Hindu father spoke Marathi and his Catholic mother spoke Konkani. Their common language was English. Soon after their marriage in 1964, they immigrated to England and then to Canada, where my husband was born and raised. Vijay’s parents didn’t teach him about their homeland’s languages, religions, or customs. Being raised in an immigrant family with no strong connection to his parents’ history or culture, he felt a growing void as he tried to reconcile his upbringing as a minority in Canada with his Indian heritage. Searching for the missing pieces of his identity, he left home in his twenties and traveled to India. He settled in the northeastern state of Assam, just south of the eastern Himalayas, and lived a simple, monastic life. He immersed himself in the languages and culture that had eluded him during his childhood: he learned to speak Hindi and Bengali, and began his study and practice of Hinduism. After nearly a decade in India, Vijay made his way back to Canada in 2001, and eventually to the United States, where we met, married, and started our family.

I traveled to India for the first time as a newlywed and have returned almost every year since: pregnant with my first son and, most recently, with my daughter; when my sons were toddlers and when they were school age. We are raising our children, Vijay, Vikram, and Meera, to be proud of their Indian heritage. They have had the privilege of exploring India and their ancestry with joyous hearts and adventurous spirits, while Vijay and I work to expand their cultural knowledge. My family enjoys sightseeing during our travels, visiting palaces, forts, and museums, but we spend the majority of our time experiencing everyday life in markets, temples, and friends’ homes. This intimate perspective is what I hope to reflect in this collection. To be a traveler is to pay heightened attention to the ordinary, and that is what I strive to celebrate in my photography: the ordinary moments that feel extraordinary.

This photographic collection offers a glimpse into Rajasthan’s rich use of color and pattern; it is not meant to be a comprehensive historical or cultural study of the region’s arts and crafts and it would take many lifetimes to explore a country as vast as India. Indian art forms are complex and layered subjects. Because of the diversity of the population—across regional, geographical, and religious divides—there are myriad interpretations and representations of symbols and colors. But as I combed through my archives trying to choose photographs to include in this book, one thing became clear to me—very specific color stories were at play in Rajasthan, and patterns occupied a central role.

No matter where we live, our lives are filled with color and pattern, but as we move through the world at an increasingly frenzied pace, we often fail to notice them. I hope this collection reminds you to look for the beauty that surrounds you, whether it is in the form of a magnificent architectural feat or a humble household object.

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4.8 out of 54.8 out of 5
471 global ratings

Top reviews from the United States

Hilary Grosskopf
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
An Informational and Inspiring Visual Journey Through Rajasthan
Reviewed in the United States on March 6, 2020
If you love culture, photography, art, and writing, you will love this intimate and vivid journey through Rajasthan. Christine’s photographs and writing come together to create a truly immersive experience. Throughout the book, Christine provides an abundance of information... See more
If you love culture, photography, art, and writing, you will love this intimate and vivid journey through Rajasthan. Christine’s photographs and writing come together to create a truly immersive experience. Throughout the book, Christine provides an abundance of information about Rajasthan and Indian history, as well as Rajasthan’s unique artwork, traditions, industry, and culture.

This book is a powerful learning experience because the photographs so wonderfully compliment and underscore the information Christine shares. I have traveled to India multiple times and this book brought me back there, reconnecting me with India’s vibrant energy and culture. I also learned many things I didn’t yet know about Rajasthan, Hinduism, and Indian culture.

While most travel photography books are organized by geography, this book is artfully organized by color! This book is an essential study if you are a photographer or author because Christine skillfully captures the essence of the culture respectfully, intentionally, and authentically. After reading this book I feel more creatively inspired. I really enjoyed developing a deeper understanding of India and getting to know Christine as well while reading this book.

This book is a beautiful coffee table book but it is much more than that. Most of us that have traveled to India have a deeply personal reason for doing so. Christine shares her personal story beautifully in this book. If you have not yet made the trip to India, this book might just provide that dose of inspiration and motivation to take your own journey very soon.
20 people found this helpful
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lighter
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
lush and gorgeous!
Reviewed in the United States on March 16, 2020
I absolutely adore this book. The photography is stunning and varied, and I really love the organization around color and pattern. The quality of the book is clear in the thick paper and beautiful embossed cloth cover. This is a gorgeous coffee table book, but one you and... See more
I absolutely adore this book. The photography is stunning and varied, and I really love the organization around color and pattern. The quality of the book is clear in the thick paper and beautiful embossed cloth cover. This is a gorgeous coffee table book, but one you and your guests will actually pick up and savor! Christine provides interesting history about various applications of color and pattern but the photographs are the central focus of the book, which makes it so fun to look through. I also really appreciated the introduction by fashion scholar Dr. Vandana Bhandari, as well as Christine''s cultural sensitivity and obvious respect for the cultures of Rajasthan. I love looking at this book and allowing my imagination to carry me far away to a place I''ve always longed to visit (one day!!). Highly recommend!

Christine Bayles Kortsch
15 people found this helpful
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JMR
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Beautiful
Reviewed in the United States on May 3, 2020
This is a beautiful book, cover to cover. Since I can’t go to India to see theses beautiful places and people, this is the next best thing! Combine this book with watching Hindi/India movies via Amazon or Netflix and you have a mini vacation right in your living room.... See more
This is a beautiful book, cover to cover. Since I can’t go to India to see theses beautiful places and people, this is the next best thing! Combine this book with watching Hindi/India movies via Amazon or Netflix and you have a mini vacation right in your living room. Safest way to travel at this time.
Namaste 🌸
12 people found this helpful
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CH
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A Stunning and Inspiring Book!!
Reviewed in the United States on March 12, 2020
I turned 18 in India so this country and the people I met there hold a special place in my heart and memory. Working my way through this book has been so incredibly evocative, reminding me of moments I treasure: vivid pink and orange flower petals raining down on me or the... See more
I turned 18 in India so this country and the people I met there hold a special place in my heart and memory. Working my way through this book has been so incredibly evocative, reminding me of moments I treasure: vivid pink and orange flower petals raining down on me or the smell of spices in the market. Christine''s photos are stunning and she truly captures the spirit and incredible beauty of this country. I''m so happy to have such a lovely book in my collection, it''s the perfect mental vacation. Plus, its soft pink cover makes it a stand out on a bookshelf or coffee table—just begging you to pick it up again and again. Thank you for sharing your work with us, Christine!
11 people found this helpful
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J. Meyer
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Experience The Beauty of India
Reviewed in the United States on July 13, 2020
A stunning visual feast for the eyes. Explore the beauty of India through Christine Chitnis lens. Textures, colors and culture all presented fabulously. Escape on an visual adventure that will not disappoint. A wonderful coffee table book.
8 people found this helpful
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Lou
3.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Could be better
Reviewed in the United States on July 30, 2020
Photos are interesting but the pages are dull, not vibrant pictures at all. The photography itself is interesting but I was expectIng slick sharp pictures and this was not that. Still was worth having.
6 people found this helpful
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Katie
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Beautiful inspiring book, quality binding and pages
Reviewed in the United States on September 23, 2021
This book is GORGEOUS. It highlights the colorful culture of India across all areas of life from religious ceremony to food to clothing. The photos are incredible and the heavy weight matte paper is pleasing to the hand. the... See more
This book is GORGEOUS. It highlights the colorful culture of India across all areas of life from religious ceremony to food to clothing. The photos are incredible and the heavy weight matte paper is pleasing to the hand. the binding is pink fabric with gold embossing. It will be beautiful to display as well. The patterns and color combinations throughout are rich and inspiring. Definitely recommend!
One person found this helpful
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JJ
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A book to savour...
Reviewed in the United States on March 5, 2020
This is a beautiful book, brimming with vivid colours, intricate patterns, and keen attention to detail. I have been enjoying it bit by bit since it first arrived, I know I will be returning to these images again and again for inspiration.
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Top reviews from other countries

K. Platt
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Good but ...
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on August 19, 2021
I enjoy this book and will return to it from time to time. Only 4 star because I felt the photos lacked vibrancy. Some are enlarged too much and the focus is not there. Some just seem on the dull side. Overall a fabulous introduction to this wonderful part of India.
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y
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Lovely book
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on June 5, 2021
Lovely book
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Em
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Beautiful cover to cover
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on June 20, 2020
I’m never one to write reviews but this book it worth it. It’s so beautiful cover to cover and the commentary is fitting and educational while still being enticing, you can tell their is a real love from the author. 10/10!
One person found this helpful
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Georgina Smith
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Beautiful book
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on March 18, 2020
Beautiful book. Stunning pictures.
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kalliopi Mavrakaki
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
What a wonderful book!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 5, 2021
A great great book, amazing photographs and lots of useful information about Rajastan,
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  • Textile Fabrics


The stunning blue-and-white floral frescoes of the Chhavi Niwas (Hall of Images) at the Jaipur City Palace.


A new bride on her honeymoon shows off her fading mehndi.


The elaborately decorated doorway of Virendra Pol.


Mounds of spices on display at a spice shop in Jaipur’s Bapu Bazaar.


Chai is traditionally served in unglazed, single-use clay cups called kulhars.


Women in Bagru collect water for their morning chai.

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