The Epic to the Episodes to the Scenes from a Sacred Narrative Art Tradition: Investigating the Roots and the Routes to Newer Possibilities

Amit Singh (Ambedkar University Delhi)

The gaps in the discursive spaces and ecosystems of higher studies worldwide, more so conspicuous and drastic in the countries with colonial past, call for concerted efforts to search, propose and finally establish substitutes for the prevailing norms of (academic) success and significance. I propose to investigate this possibility through a deep engagement with one of the ritual narrative art traditions of India known as Phad, i.e. sacred narrative cloth painting that depicts the epics of Pabuji and Devnarayan, two prominent folk deities of the state of Rajasthan in India. The performance of these epics is integrally and seamlessly woven together with the verbal description of the visual Phad. The Joshi family of Shahpura in Rajasthan has been making these famous Phads since the 13th century. In my paper, I would attempt to investigate the challenges that threatened, across ages, the very roots of this tradition. I would further analyze the creativity, resilience and determination of the phad makers from the Joshi family because of whose consistent efforts this tradition is alive and thriving. My chief collaborator in this investigation would be Kalyan Joshi, two-times national award winner and the leading Phad artist of the country. I would also like to highlight the possibilities that would emerge from engaging artists like Kalyan Joshi as "Professor of Practice", a welcome idea proposed recently by the Indian government that promises to dismantle the prevalent institutional and structural hierarchies and gaps.

Part of 02-13 Space, Tradition, and Narrative, Thursday, November 02, 10:30 am–12:30 pm