Saturday, October 9, 2010

Voice Of The Undiscovered

People find it hard to digest that the state of Jharkhand can in itself be a huge diversity in art and archeology. For years, I have been observing people and lately, my friends sporting some authentic art pieces produced in their own states. The traditional 'gamacha' of Assam, Madhubani Paitings from Bihar, Shell works of coastal states etc. had left me with a question that would Jharkhand ever get a chance to produce its own art-form ever?

A sohrai painting

The art form was not technically produced rather it was revived. I'm talking about Sohrai and Kohvar paintings which are practiced hugely in villages deep in forest where a common pair eyes would fail to notice even a single colour. After a big struggle which lasted for more than five years, Hazaribagh has finally got a platform to showcase these art-forms to the world, The Urban Haat. Situated on the 'life line of Jharkhand' NH 31, the place offers many Hazaribagh based paintings, handicrafts, furnitures and other handloom materials. This initiative by the government of Jharkhand took a raher long time to show up but this in turn did two things- provided my answer and finally, made a way to those hardworking artists to earn some money to live and continue the tradition.

Sanskriti Museum

Recently, I had an opportunity to meet Mr. Bulu Imam. Mr. Imam is Convener,Hazaribagh chapter, INTACH, New Delhi and has published many books, journals and papers on the whole art-forms of Jharkhand. His little personal museum, Sanskriti is set in unadulterated nature plus, the whole area radiates the look of British grandeur. With little or rather almost no help from the administration and the state, Mr. Imam has managed to run the museum and popularize these art-forms in countries like Australia, Italy, Germany and other states of India. One can not help but notice the irony when I say 'other states of India' because the very reception of these arts in Urban Jharkhand is low and limited to the elite section of the society who can afford to purchase a single piece a Sohrai for a sum of 130 rupees. The high percentage of unprivileged section of the society makes it even harder for their reception. Another factor in this case is ignorant behaviour of the state government in this area. Mr. Imam doesn't forget to state a sad fact- the whole museum is run by his own pocket plus exhibitions where he showcases these paintings are also arranged and paid by him. A certificate of appreciation from Doordarshan is what he has got from the 'government'. But nevertheless, the old man feels happy if someone comes at his door to see his museum and that happiness is beyond anything. That smile and enthusiasm with which he explains about the cave paintings, sohrai, kohvar, rocks, megalithic sites shows a hint of success he has achieved in continuing his feat and justifying himself as a voice of the undiscovered.

Mr. Imam in his office

In coming days, I'll be visiting Isco, a site which harbours a rock art gallery and also when I'll return, I'd be visiting Sanskriti again in order to know more about the man himself plus to participate in this whole movement which he has initiated.

Mihir Vatsa
(Off. Mihir Kumar Jha)
B.A. (H) English 2nd year

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