Sunday, October 25, 2009

Indian Tribal Art...

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 ?


  1. What very hard questions you ask...and of course, I don't know the particular regional questions or issues. However, I can feel the quandry in your post....and it is indeed universal. Can one really keep a people apart....who are we to decide the future and fate of a more distinct cultural or ethnic group? Have we....(and the 'we' is always so many definitions) ... have we already destroyed so many wonderful life lessons, history and art contributions by the advancing of the almighty dollar? Or will we be holding some back whilst the rest of us trundle forward at great speed. Sigh...such heavy questions first thing this morning my dear friend.

  2. May their tribes continue to flourish! I wish there was some means technical developments and our art progressed together.

    Good you highlighted this here.

  3. I think there is no easy answer to this question. And it may not be up to us to make the choice.

    Life in the cities, in the towns, and in the villages, has changed so much in recent years. Change will probably take place for the tribals too, whether we, or they, like it or not.

    The art forms of various communities are certainly worth preserving though.

  4. The figurines look beautiful. Hope these types of art survive.

    I read in a Tamil magazine that these people also have started sending their children to school and I read an interview with a graduate lambada (it is lambadi, here), who has started pushing his people to send the children of their community to school. He takes tuitions for them in the evening and working in a government office in daytime.

  5. I guess we can take comfort in the unshakeable cycle of creation. What comes has to go. We ourselves will look tribal or alien to our people in a 100 years from now. We all hold the capacity to observe all which changes. There is no problem with it unless we want to make one out of it. The fact that it changes is not the root of the problem, that we are falsely attached with its preservation surely is.

  6. Its BEAUTIFUL art :)
    Fantastic shot !!


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