A Village is a Busy Place
Rohima Chitrakar and V. Geetha
When is a book not a book? This one certainly breaks out of the usual mould but then it is from Tara Books who are famous for their innovative and stylish publications. Essentially it takes the form of a Bengal Patua style scroll painting, the illustrator being Patua artist, Rohima Chitrakar. (Patua Painting is a form of Scroll Painting indigenous to West Bengal, a state in India).
Here by unfolding half a dozen cardboard pages longitudinally, readers can focus on different aspects of life in an east Indian Santhal village starting with some busy culinary preparations for a wedding feast, along with bridal chair surrounded with musicians …
Meanwhile there’s much other work to be done – fishing, chopping wood, looking after a baby, and selling.
Next we learn about the central ‘Common Space’ a large area where friends meet and perhaps share a snack.
Come evening and it’s time for collecting water and taking the animals for a bath in the pond before nightfall when work stops and the dancing and music begin in earnest…
But that’s not all. Right into the midst of all this comes a colourful train and in summertime particularly people love to go travelling.
Completely unfolded, the entire scene is over 1.5 metres and can be hung for readers to enjoy as the work of art it surely is.
The whole thing is ‘testimony to the collaboration and friendship’ between Santal and Patua artists who over time have ‘come to borrow ideas and art from each other’. It’s vibrant, absolutely bursting with exciting things to pore over be they people, animals or small happenings.
This is the kind of ‘book’ that can be used and enjoyed in both primary and secondary settings and by students of art of all ages, in fact anyone interested in broadening their cultural and artistic horizons. There are pointers for focus and discussion on every fold written by V.Geetha, but there’s plenty of room too, for individual’s flights of fancy and story telling.