Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Beasts Of India
Edited by Kanchana Arni and Gita Wolf
Publishers: Tara Publishing
Image courtesy: http://www.tarabooks.com/
This is a special hand made book by Tara Publications. As the title suggests it is a collection of the Beasts of India as they appear in Indian folk and tribal art. The book is in three parts.
The first part is Gita Wolf’s introduction. She talks in detail about how the book was born and the work that went in to the making of this book. More importantly Gita describes the difference between folk art, tribal art and traditional art. Growing up in India I have looked at many unique Indian art without consciously being educated about it. For the most part, it was just there, on bedsheets or table cloths or TV covers. But as I was reading Gita’s introduction about tribal, folk and traditional art, I had vivid mental images. Reproducing every word would be the only thing that would do justice to Gita’s introduction, but I will leave you with what she says about community art,
“What is one to make of the mode of creation that is not concerned with the uniqueness of the art object or the artists vision? It takes its ‘aesthetic’ status for granted, is not anxious about straddling different disciplines, about influence or imitation, and is very matter-of fact about its powers to suspend disbelief.
This goes against the commonly accepted western definition of what art is: a one of a kind object made by a fiercely individualistic individual, engaged in the expression of some kind of truth telling.
And yet these vibrant images with an indefinably unique quality must be called art, and remarkable art at that.”
She goes on to talk about how community art in India signifies the essence of India - ‘Everything and every person has a place in order to fit in to the bigger picture of things.’
The second part is the pictures of Indian animals. What I liked is the way the pictures are organized. Tigers in Rajasthan’s Pithora, MP’s Gond, Bihar’s Madhubani, Orissa’s Patachitra and Jharkhand’s Sohrai. Followed by the Lion, how the majestic animal is represented in different the regions, so on an so forth. It is easy to flip the book and compare the different styles. It is easy to draw conclusions. Even for a five year old it is obvious that the Gond is more intricate and detailed than the Pithora. A three year old can make observations that the Madhubani is partial to primary colors. Yes, I read it with my five year old and three year old and it appealed to them as well.
The third part of the book is an index with the a thumbnail of the art and a blurb about the art work. Also the book comes with 5X5 cards of the a Madhubani snake, Gond deer, Pathachitra tiger and Pithora monkey.
Definitely an asset to our bookshelf.
More here to see how the book inspired us.
Gita Wolf's interview.