Saturday, November 27, 2010

SIGNATURE - Patterns in Gond Art

Title - Signature, Patterns in Gond Art

Edited by - Gita Wolf, Bhajju Shyam and Jonathan Yamakami

Publisher - Tara Books ; Age group - All ages

Signature - Patterns in Gond Art, is truly a signature book of Tara Books, which releases such exquisite books, that each book is a collector's delight.

This book is an attempt to understand the Gond Art patterns, the artists, their unique styles and the inspiration for each of their signature patterns. With an excellent introduction by Gita Wolf, each of the subsequent pages have the pattern magnified on one side of the page and on the other side is the artist's name and his/her explanation of the inspiration for that pattern.

For example there is a Gond artist by name Ram Bai, whose signature pattern is the long bindi (the kind that we call thilakam). You have the beautiful bindi patterns in red and green on an ochre background and here is what the artist has to say "I thought of a bindi on a forehead, not the round kind, mine is a line". Each of the artist's explanation of their individual pattern amazes you, because all these are simple and easily understandable. There is nothing abstract about them. Most of their inspiration comes from nature and it is a revelation that there are so many patterns out there waiting to be discovered by us. Ears of corn, young paddy shoots, crescent moon are some of the beautiful things that have inspired artists. Some of the patterns and their inspiration, mentioned by the artists are mind blowing because it speaks volumes of their creativity and observation skills.

As Gita mentions in the introduction, once we familiarise ourselves with the artists and their style, we would be able to identify the artist anywhere based on their work. I thought this was an interesting exercise ! So I collected all the books in my house where the illustrations have been done based on the Gond Art style - Turning the pot, Tilling the land (Durgabai Vyam), one of the stories in The Verdict and other tales from the East (Anand Singh Shyam and Kalabai Shyam), Bulli and the tiger (Nankusiya Shyam). I studied the individual patterns of artists as outlined in this book and went to check in these other books. What a childish joy I derived in discovering how the unique stamp of the artists is so evident everywhere !!

I showed and read this book to my two kids, aged 4 and 8 years. They enjoyed it a lot and it was an interesting exercise to figure out, what the magnified pattern on the right side meant and what could have been the inspiration. In a rush of excitement, the kids decided to create their own patterns and filled their drawings with these unique patterns. It made us very happy indeed to see our Gond art drawings !

An eye opener to Gond Art, inspiration and joy for the readers - this book has achieved it's purpose of creation is my humble opinion :-).

Pic src : Tara Books


Natalie said...

It sounds great as Gone Art is really accessible for kids, but it is not something childlike ie it has not been dumbed down for children. This might be a nice little stocking filler!

anu kumar said...

very innovative way of doing a book, and bringing alive also an artistic tradition; i have a book tara did on the tsunami. It was like a scroll, and used the 'patachitra' folk style of Orissa.
Thanks for this, ranjani, made nice reading

Vibha said...

I appreciate the utter simplicity and effectiveness of Gond Art. I had reviewed one book by Katha 'mai and her friends', written and illustrated by the famous gond artist Durga Bai.

A great book and equally great review Ranjani.

ranjani.sathish said...


Anu, yes most of the Tara Books are very unique and special. I remember reading about the Tsunami book. On their website, I saw this interesting book mentioned in New releases- "I see the promised land". It is a grahic novel on the life of Martin Luther King Jr, using the Patua art style of Bengal. It seems very interesting !

Vibha, thank you ! I do remember the book review at your website. Do you know any book shop here in Blore that might stock it? I don't get to see many Katha books out in the shops.

sandhya said...

A nice pick, Ranjani. We have been very recently become aware of the different tribal art forms here at home, and have fun identifying them at the most unlikely of places. Like A recently noticed the Warli painings in the coke ad without me pointing it out to her. We have 'The Verdict...' too, and this book seems like a wonderful book to go through. Will look out for it.
Katha and Tara books have been seen by me at Landmark and mostly at Sutradhar. They certainly will have them.

Choxbox said...

A very unique pick R and an interesting review. Will look out for it.

Praba Ram said...

A very cool artsy pick. I love how you've collected all of the books on Gond, and neatly identified similar patterns by the same artists. Seems like a very exercise in Gond art exploration.

I think we should link all the Gond, Warli, and other rural/native art oriented children's books by Tulika, Tara, Katha and such and link them all on ST sidebar. Will serve as a neat resource, isn't it?

Thanks, Ranjani!

Tara Books said...

Thanks for the post, we really enjoyed reading it! We'd LOVE to see photos of the Gond pictures that your children drew, if you have the chance to send them across (promotions [@]

ranjani.sathish said...

Sandhya, Chox, Praba and Tara Books : Thank you !

Sandhya, need to check out is a long time since I visited the place.

Praba,yes that's a good idea...I think we already have quite a few books that have been reviewed in that genre.

Tara Books, I am sorry we did these drawings on some rough sheets, in a very excited state ! I don't think I have preserved them. In case we do more of these, I will mail it over :-)

Maya said...

Absolutely love all he books that Tara Books does. And Gond is one of my fav folk art styles. Have met Durga Bai at a fair at CKP and her work is absolutely fantastic. This book sounds lovely and its on the list along with the 'London Jungle Book' and 'The Night Life of Trees'.

Psst: There is a folk and tribal art and craft exhibition happening at CKP from 3rd-12th Dec. May get to see some of the artists mentioned in the book? :)

Meera Sriram said...

A delightful way to bring art, inspiration and creativity to children....while we might go ooo and aaah over it, I think it might tickle the younger ones in a non-exotic way to get inspired and experiment and create! Great pick Ranjani!

ranjani.sathish said...

Maya, thanks ! Yes got to know through Art, about the CKP fair and I read that Durga Bai Vyom is going to be there :-). Hoping to meet her this time.

Meera, thanks ...that's so true. The children really loved experimenting with their own patterns !!

Choxbox said...

Spotted several beautiful children’s books at the Strand Book Fair - all done in the Gond style. There was one called 'The Flight of the Mermaids’ illustrated by Bhajju Shyam that totally caught my eye.

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