Bringing Back the Panchatantra Days with Karen Knorr's Photography

Creators And Collectors

The imagery is stunning! An exotic Sarus Crane walks within a majestic palace hall. The crane seems to own the space, and yet, is like an intruder. The lines between reality and illusion are smudged – creating a sensual, surrealistic picture. KAREN KNORR’s photographs grab your attention, transporting you to another space and time.

("Flight to Freedom", shot at Durbar Hall, Junha Mahal, Dungarpur; source:

Knorr is a globally renowned photographer, born in Germany, raised in Puerto Rico, and educated in France and England. Her first encounter with India was in 2008, which she calls a “life-changing experience”.

(Karen Knorr; Source: NY Times)

On a quest to photograph a “different India”, she discovered and fell in love with the lavish and opulent palaces, forts, temples and mausoleums of North India, as well as its animal life. ‘INDIA SONG’ is a compilation of photographs that are an ode to the rich cultural heritage of Mughal and Rajput India.

("The Survivor", shot at Deogarh Palace; source: Tasveer)

Each meticulously crafted photograph brings alive the mystic fables and stories of Northern India, while delving into the notions of caste, feminine subjectivity, modernization and its relation to the animal world.

She takes images of animals shot in cities, zoos, and sanctuaries, and superimposes them within palace durbar halls, long corridors and other baroque spaces within Indian monuments.

("The Witness", shot at Humayun's Tomb, New Delhi; source: Tasveer)

The photos are eye-catching and allegorical – the monuments assert themselves as symbols of affluence and upper caste beliefs. On the other hand, the animals act as intruders alluding to the transient nature of life, and the sweeping effect of modernization on animal life and cultural pretexts.

(Karen Knorr Photography, source: Paris Photo)

For anyone who has grown up with the famed Panchatantra, these photos will ignite your imagination and reinvent those beloved animal fables. ‘India Song’ is also reminiscent of Mughal miniature paintings, celebrating the intricacies of art and architecture.

(Karen Knorr Photography, source:

Knorr has painstakingly scanned the analogue images and then fused it with digital images of animals. The very process behind these photographs is a statement on the past and present. It chronicles an age gone by, where empty spaces are occupied by animals that are dwindling in population.

("Durga's Mount", shot at Junha Mahal, Dungarpur; source: Tasveer)

Knorr’s work in ‘India Song’ earned her a nomination for the prestigious Deutsche Börse Photography Prize. The series is everything that art seeks to be. It brings forth questions in the mind, makes you ruminate, and at the very least, compels you to look at the beauty within the image with renewed interest.

(Karen Knorr Photography, source:

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