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Mother To Daughter: Mandana Art

Posted: August 25, 2012

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Guest Blogger Pallavi Vadhia is Book Building Manager, Tara Books.

A rare treat afforded staff and visitors at Book Building in Chennai last Saturday.

Watching Sunita, a talented young artist from the Meena tribe, mixing and working with her hand in just two colours – white and terracotta – was a joy to experience. Her calm, yet focused demeanor made all the more pleasurable for the viewer as we gazed at the menagerie of animals skillfully taking shape on large kraft paper sheets.

One could only wonder where her fingers would create the next line and curve. Hailing from Rajasthan’s Meena tribe, Sunita is part of a public art tradition passed on from mother to daughter through the generations, and was with us working on the illustrations for a children’s book project.

Meena Artist Sunita

Sunita at work

In the Meena villages of Rajasthan women paint not just the walls and floors of their own homes to mark festivals and the passing seasons, but public and communal areas as well, working together and never leaving individual signatures. The living art that they create is known as Mandana.

It is extremely rare for women of this tribe to travel outside of Rajasthan, and this weekend was the first time that Sunita’s work had been displayed publicly, making the visit even more special for us.

Mandana art motifs

Animal motifs in Mandana art

[You can read more about this extraordinary tradition of women’s art in the book Nurturing Walls, which focusses on a common theme found in Meena art: animals and their young]

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