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Art and untouchability


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Of late, I’ve been really stuck up on the Panchatantra project. It’s actually going nowhere, still I am unwilling to give it up. I want to come up with a range of home decor products and services for children’s room. The entire range will be based on Panchatantra, illustrated by artisans using various crafts and completely hand crafted.

As part of the research, I came across this book called  Bhimayana: Experiences of Untouchability, Incidents in the life of Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar.

The entire book is illustrated by Durgabai Vyam and Subhash Vyam. The story was compiled by Srividya Natarajan and S. Anand.

I stay in an urban set up where I cannot imagine a society divided on the basis of caste. In my growing years, there have been instances where I’ve been a witness to such caste divisions. My grandmother would insist that I shower immediately after an haircut, or that maids at home would use a separate cup. My hair is now styled at good salons and I’ve never asked my maid to use a different set of vessels.  So when I read this book, the caste divisions hit me really hard. A good education need not necessarily end all these troubles. Ambedkar went through these trials and tribulations all his life. But what is most shocking is the present day manifestations of such divisions. You can read more about the story here.

The book is illustrated in a beautiful Gond Art. Gond art is a tribal practice in Madhya Pradesh, Every Gond painter has developed his or her own style now, some draw dots, some use only crosses or circles and some of them use a mix of lines and lines. This style is strictly followed and has allowed each person in the community to carve his own identity.

And of course, when it comes to books, it is only Flipkart for me. Incredible service, it makes me want to emulate that at CraftCanvas. You can find the book here.


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