We discovered this store of tribal arts. When we first went past the dimly lit store, we almost didn't give it a second glance. But sensing a potential customer the lights came on, the air conditioners hurriedly pressed into operation. And lo! before us were shelves of rather messy, but beautiful tribal art pieces. At prices that were so reasonable .
What made shopping there even more enjoyable was the enthusiastic sales girl, who took delight in showing us around. Art pieces from all over India. This has now become our one stop shop for gifts.
Since then, I have been wondering how long these arts will survive. And what about the tribes?
For instance, the lambadas. I remember seeing so many of them in my childhood. They were in our city in such large numbers. They would set up home in any vacant land. But I guess as open spaces vanished, along with them the lambadas did too. I did not realise that their numbers had dwindled and they were no longer around , until I spotted one of them recently
I wonder how many of the tribe remain - or have they joined the mainstream?
There are mixed opinions on welfare programmes for the tribal. In case of the Jarawa tribes of the Andamans, there was a huge hue and cry that they had become objects of tourist curiosity and that their territory should be kept out of bounds to the civilians. When they are so close to civilisation, is it right to insist that they go back to their restricted area?
There are uncontacted tribes in the world, and in their case, it may seem justified to leave them alone. But what of those who are aware of the changing world around them?
And, selfishly, what of these wonderful arts? With rehabilitation programmes, would these be lost ?