In the early eighteenth century, Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II of Jaipur constructed five astronomical observatories in northern India. The observatories, or "Jantar Mantars" as they are commonly known, incorporate multiple buildings of unique form, each with a specialized function for astronomical measurement. The four sites that remain represent an extraordinary fusion of architecture and science, combining elements of astronomy, astrology, and geometry into forms of remarkable beauty that have captivated the attention of architects, artists, scientists, and historians around the world.
In a live, virtual Chats in the Stacks talk, Barry Perlus, associate professor emeritus of art in the College of Architecture, Art, and Planning, discusses his photographic exploration of the Jantar Mantars in his book Celestial Mirror: The Astronomical Observatories of Jai Singh II (Yale University Press, 2020). Perlus’s images show breathtaking, 360-degree panoramas, while his explanatory text and diagrams describe the observatories and their workings, providing historical context and insights about the scientific and architectural innovations involved—all to provide a delightful immersive experience that brings the observatories to life.
A live Q&A session will follow the talk. Audience members are encouraged to submit questions for the author to the Chat box in the webinar during the presentation.