Thursday, June 23, 2011

La Sapienza, University of Rome, and ISIAO Conference

Papers presented at  La Sapienza, University of Rome, and ISIAO

18th and 19th April two day international seminar was held by La Sapienza, University of Rome. The first days meeting was in the grand premises of La Sapienza itself, and second days proceedings were held at ISIAO, the Italian Institute for the Study of Africa and the Orient. Here an exhibition on the Khovar and Sohrai art had been set up by Ms Daniela Bezzi using artworks from the 2008 Pigorini Museum exhibition of TWAC in Rome. The seminar was organized by Dr.Fabio Scialpi, Head of Dept. of Religion and Philosophy, La Sapienza and Dr.Tiziana Lorenzetti,

Alongside this exhibition  a working display was given by Philomina and Elizabeth Imam of a Sohrai lotus mandala painted on mud treated cloth. The proceedings of both days seminar is given below-

The first day’s seminar at La Sapienza, Univ. of Rome consisted of paper given by eminent European and Indian Scholars on Indian Art and History.

The second day’s seminar was held at ISIAO in the same way and in this seminar in the evening I presented my paper attached with a slide presentation which was widely accepted. Philomina and Elizabeth painted a large mandala on cloth using mud acrylic.

Presented at La Sapienza, Univ. of Rome, and ISIAO (18th-19th April, 2011)

International Conference, Glimpses of Indian History and Art, Reflections on the Past, Perspectives for the Future  


Hazaribagh, Jharkhand, eastern central India: 23 – 25 and 24 -48 north latitude and 84 -29 and 86 -38 east longitude. Jharkhand is famous in Indian anthropology as the cradle of tribal culture and its name means “forest land”. Its vast forests have been badly damaged by mining, dams and industrialization since India’s independence from British rule in 1947 and its tribal population has faced massive displacement.  The documentation of tribal art and culture by the Author has been persistently pursued for the past three decades and this paper presents viewpoints regarding the rockart of Jharkhand which he has brought to light since 1991 – one dozen new sites – and the connection between the rockart and the contemporary village paintings  in the context of the palaeoarchaeology of the region  which is collected in a museum  specially for the purpose.

The Archaeology of the region  goes back to the middle palaeolithic in the vicinity of the rockart caves which have been dated by experts to between 8000-2500 B.C. The stylistic interpretation of the village paintings has been done for the over dozen tribal groups to show the continuing artistic tradition and relationship between the local tribals and the art of their prehistoric ancestors. It describes how  the art of these indigenous societies along with scientific analysis of the palaeoarchaeology and interpretation of their artistic traditions have conferred  indigenous identity recognized at the UN level to these  tribes whose environments are facing massive destructive strip mining interests which threaten to destroy the region and its heritage. The present paper  presents  the motifs found in the rock paintings a continued in the traditional village painting , and their  continuing significance in the common life of the women who paint them for ritual purposes. 

The rock paintings overlooking the villages  until their discovery in the hilly ranges during the 1990s and early 21st century were unknown to the women village mural painters. Their significance was unlocked by studying their village significance. This information is studied in its  pan-Indian context and in relation to various social and historical forces over the past several millennia going back to pre-Indus valley times. The paper presents the gradual interpretation of the language of the Adivasi mural painting tradition , in relation to the rock art symbolism, and  presents a summing up of the methodology for obtaining credibility of the art for gaining  UN indigenous status for the tribals, and the forming of a tribal women’s Artists Cooperative in 1993, which has already held several dozen major exhibitions of the art at prestigious national museums and art galleries around the world, and has received the patronage of SOAS for a six week exhibition at the BRUNEI GALLERY in London from 12 April 2011. In 2009 the art was exhibited in Rome in the PIGORINI MUSEUM for four months.

Text of full paper attached

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