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Where has the tiger gone. Image Credit: Maati Crafts

A Collection of very special books by Gond Artists

One of our very popular articles of all times remains the one we did about important Gond artists you should know. The article talks about Gond art pioneers and disruptors who brought this art form to the mainstream. Gond, like any folk/tribal art form started its journey on walls of people’s homes. Even today, a Gond mural remains the most cherished way of appreciating this form. However, in recent times, these very artists who we featured in our article have found another medium to celebrate their art form – A Book. But, these are not just any other Art Books. These are incredibly special, highly curated books brimming with stunning visuals and story-telling. 

Here is a very small collection of the ones that moved us:

Jangarh Singh Shyam – The Enchanted Forest by Dr. Aurogeeta Das

 Jangarh Singh Shyam - Enchanted Forest book cover. Image credit: Amazon Jangarh Singh Shyam - Enchanted Forest - inside the book. Image credit: Scroll.in

We start with the artist who started it all. Jangarh Singh Shyam remains an enigma and this book is a celebration of an artist who continues to inspire artists in the Gond community to date. This visually stunning book studies his aesthetics, themes, and art historical relevance and also explores his relationship with early patrons like the collectors Niloufar and Mitchell S. Crites.

The author - Dr. Aurogeeta Das, not only examines the body of work that Jangarh left behind, but also talks about early practices of collecting contemporary folk and tribal art in India. The Enchanted Forest begins with chapters about the artist and his life and ends with a full catalogue of Crites’ collection, chronologically arranged. It was on Crites’ insistence that Shyam had begun to sign his works along with a date and title. 

Signature: Patterns in Gond Art by Gita Wolf & Bhajju Shyam

Signature: Patterns in Gond Art book cover. Image credit: caravan.in A signature pattern of a water droplet . Image credit: Tarabooks

Bhajju Shyam can be credited with the starting the tradition of books on Gond Art by Gond Artists. He has authored several books including the ever popular "The London Jungle Book". Another popular and amazing book of his is “The Night Life of Trees” which we worked on together with another Gond Artist – Durga Bai.

Patterns in Gond Art is the first-ever compilation of patterns used by Gond artists. Each pattern has notes on their meaning and history. It gives an amazing insight into an artist’s mind where mere mortals see a water droplet falling, but the artist sees a pattern for himself. You can find patterns from all the Gond greats in here.

Where has the tiger gone? By Dhavat Singh Uikey

 Where has the tiger gone book cover. Image credit: Tara books Where has the tiger gone - inside. Image credit: Pinterest

The Gonds lived in thick green forests in central India. In fact, their name Gond translates to green mountain. They were very used to having wildlife such as elephants and tigers around them. They treated them with respect and like any tribal culture revered the beings. The subject of these animals losing their home is referred to in many Gond art works such as this one by Santosh Maravi.

This book is a retelling of traditional Gond tales about the tiger by artist Dhavat Singh Uikey. He talks about stories from his grandmother that captured his imagination when growing up to the extent that he felt he knew this creature. It is packed full of symbolic art and with this he captures not only the mythic and iconic status of the great beast, but also a time, place and relationship that is lost to us.

Finding my Way by Venkat Raman Singh Shyam and S Anand

Finding my way book cover. Image credit: Amazon

This book is a truly unique graphic memoir. Venkat Raman Singh Shyam draws and tells the story of his life. It is poignant, funny and enchanting at the same time. The artist takes you on the journey of his life as he sings Kabir and quotes idioms and phrases from his community. Venkat Raman Singh Shyam is a very renowned Gond Artist. He is the nephew of Jangarh Singh Shyam and also refers to him in his book.

Even if you don’t read the book, I urge you to view this video. It is the most incredible piece of work there is.

 Buy original Gond paintings & cushion covers inspired by Gond here

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