This number of Vihangama concerns itself with ‘nomadic’ cultures, especially the Rabaris and the nomads of Rupchu of Eastern Ladakh. This is in the context of an exhibition about Rabaris, the book on them by Francesco Flavoni, and a dialogue by Nita Mathur. The highlights of this community is their liveliness despite living in the arid zones of Kutch and Rajasthan; their exquisite colourful embroidery on dresses and other clothes (veils, blankets and turbans), and ornaments. These manifest expresions are symbolic of their language and motifs which represent a lifestyle closely knit with the elements and mythology. They have a worldview in harmony with nature, even though many of them lead an agricultural sedentary life. Even in Delhi’s urban situation, they have not lost this joy for life, adopting to new changes without conflict. Theirs is a projected optimism, due to their rootedness in the earth, which is worth emulating by urban-industrial man who is so alienated from the elements.
The nomads of Rupchu exemplify their lifestyle in terms off sustainable development so much spoken of in seminars. Of course, as Monisha Ahmed points out, both governmental and non-governmental organizations are imposing new attitudes which is disrupting the old lifestyle as anywhere else. Today, there is overgrazing of land and educated children no longer want to carry on the beautiful work on woollen materials derived from yaks, goats and sheep which reflects their mythologies and myths of creation.
There is also a report on herostones by Ajay Dandekar in Maharashtra and Central India, placed within a ‘tribal’ context of belief systems of death patterns related to folktales of heroes of these pastoralists.
Following the folk-tradition in urban setting is the work of Santokhba Dudhat, described by Gautam Chatterjee. This octogenarian artist, who began her career at the age of 65, in two decades has created magnificent canvases full of colour and life relating not only to Ramayana and Mahabharata but also a 250mt. long canvas depicting in typical folk aesthetics the life of Priyardarshini Indira Gandhi.
There is a book review of the work of Maurice Friedman who was invited by the IGNCA. The importance of the dialogical perspective about life, religion, arts, culture, ‘self’ and the ‘other’ throws new light on the aesthetic experience. “If dialogical perspective is basic, then well-being is derived from that ‘self’ and the ‘other’ in terms of experiencing – I – Thou is creative dialogue…”.
The concept of Kala Darsana, which governs this holistic framework of the IGNCA projects and exhibitions mentioned above, provides guidelines for others to follow suit.
Prakrti the work with regard of man, nature and elements, emerges in the form of a five volume series reflecting both traditional and modern scientific ideas that were discussed at various national and international seminars. The foreword by Kapila Vatsyayan examines this concept of Primary Elements within the holistic, cross-cultural and multi-disciplinary approaches.
A specific project within the above context, Dharti aur Beej : Ek Vishwavidhya by Rajednra Ranjan Chaturvedi, elaborates this interrelatedness which is being broken by modern civilization unfortunately, specially through the media, T.V., and newspapers.
There is an article on Indo-Chinese civilizational aspects seen in terms of the arts, language and culture.
This issue also has an update of the Kala Nidhi division and a workshop report on manuscriptology and palaeography by Kala Kosa. The series of lectures organized are listed, highlighting two, namely, ‘Architectural Anthropology’ and ‘Garuda in Thai Art’.