These visual formulae tell tale of
intensive humanistic relationship of
organic life with environment and
nature, amicable human behavior
with cyclic order of seasons and
sacraments, all demolishing the flimsy
line between mundane and eternal.
Every motif as an intensifier furthers
the continuity of tale from one to all.
Dr. Ajay Kumar Singh is professor and
head in the department of history of
art and Director of University
Museum Bharat Kala Bhavan at
Banaras Hindu University. He is
pioneer in the study of Western
Himalayan Art and working in the
Indo-Tibetan border region since
1976. Dr. Singh has worked in several
international projects on Indo-
Tibetan Bronzes in Kinnaur Valley,
Norway and Art Heritage of Lower
Sutlej Valley, DFG, and Germany. He has
delivered number of lectures in many
European Universities, participated in
more than dozens of International
conferences abroad and has
numerous scientific research publications to his credit. Dr. Singh has
been guest professor in the institute
of Central Asian Studies (1996-97) and
Institute of Oriental Art History (1999)
at the University of Bonn, Germany.
The authors have attempted an in-depth study of the socio cultural
milieu of the people for whom ritual, art and life are compounded into
one. The authors are not mere collectors rather they express scrupulous
understanding of the entire framework of ritual drawing which includes
humane and divine aspects of existence and their mutual linkage and
symbolization in imaginative way. The authors have taken great pains
to give a succinct but elaborate description of the drawings and grammar
of motifs used therein.
Nevertheless, the album profiles the vast universe of human
consciousness, its spontaneous artistic creativity and subtlety what often
misnamed as folk art. Professor Stella Kramrisch contemplating its
inherent spiritual drive and genre called it "unknown art of India"
unknown in the sense it has been uncared for long by the art historians
and art critics.
I sincerely hope that this album could be a beginning of such fruitful
Endeavour by the authors and by others also.
This book likely to be published in 1992-93 from Norway could
not reach to printing press for one or other reasons. There are several
excellent books on Indian Folk Art dealing with the aesthetics, style
and other aspects yet there is still scope for a book on ritual art which
generally considered as folk art of popular genre of Western Uttar
Pradesh which holds an important position in the history of Indian Art
This book presents a comprehensive examination and evaluation
of the ritual art tradition specially painting in ocio-cultural context; it
does so by discussing thematic treatment with special reference to the
constituent, motifs which give a concrete meaning. But with the
advancement of industrialization and consumerism, century’s old
tradition faces threat of deletion, their relevance and meaning. Under
such conditions this book fulfils the urgent requirement of the
preservation of disintegrating and decaying tradition. At the very outset
of the book introduction focuses upon the questions pertaining the nature
and importance of ritual art, relevance in the life and characteristic
This also probe into the matter for the search of the source of
continuity of creative tradition in the realm of aesthetic psyche of people.
For convenience and better understanding drawings are arranged in
order of calendar sequence covering seasonal rituals observed on
festivals and ceremonial rituals associated with sacraments (samskaras).
We hope this book would be endorsed by the scholars and art enthusiasts
as a humble effort of documenting and preserving the heritage vanishing
fast into hectic of time.
Ritual art is not different from decorative art because the entire
life is considered ritual in Indian tradition, and all rituals in some way
or other are taken as an art because it involves aesthetic perception of
microcosm and its transformation into macrocosm through lines,
colors, sounds, movements in rhythmic patterns of different design
Ritual art has two types of manifestation, one through the scriptural
and other through the oral, both remains in continuous interaction and
are achieved by rigorous and meticulous practice. Both the traditions
assume that originality lies not in introducing new themes and new
techniques but in faithfully following the tradition and by perfection of
arrangement and interplay of given forms creating a newly integrated
world of aesthetic enjoyment. So what is given by the tradition is as
important as what is being given back to the tradition as a work of art.
Every work of art is believed contemporary in the context of its own
time and space, and the technique of production evolved within
particular frame of time and space remains contemporary. But art being
a creative activity and expression of human experiences embodies values
which are not only transient but persistent and universal? This fact
transcends art work from particular frame of time and space into realm
of eternal and universal present. According to Indian school of thoughts
life is constructed of material and the rituals are observance of living
tradition, which at end unite people of different beliefs and bring them
into oneness of spirituality.
Book's Contents and Sample Pages
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