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Volume 67 Number 3, March-June 2016

Volume 67 Number 3

Editorial Note
Monisha Ahmed

Perspectives
Icons and Identities: The Work and Lives of Bronzecasters in Swamimalai
Sowparnika Balaswaminathan

“Wherever a person lives, he ends up belonging there”: A Brief Anecdotal History of Upar Kot
Meher Ali

Invisible Identities, Uncertain Futures? Upholding the Cultural Heritage of Kolkata’s Chinatown
Kamalika Bose

Conversation
Anurupa Roy of UNIMA and Sudip Gupta of Dolls Theatre with Mousumi Roy Chowdhury

Photo Essay
Laura Letinsky: Telephone Game: Photography and Textiles in Translation
Colin Westerbeck

Profile
The Conditions of Tibetan Monasteries in the 1930s and ‘40s as recorded by Giuseppe Tucci
Erberto Lo Bue

Review Article
Reflections on In the Name of the Goddess
Gayatri Sinha

Exhibition Review
The Fabric of India
Monisha Ahmed

Book Reviews
N.C. Mehta Collection, by Ratan Parimoo
Sunil Kothari

50 Years of the National Institute of Design 1961-2011, edited by Shilpa Das
Kirti Trivedi

Books Received

Contributors

The thematic advertisement portfolio
on the inside cover and pages 1-7 features
the Dara Shikoh Festival, Srinagar
Jyoti Singh

Thematic Ad-portfolio: The Dara Shikoh Festival
Singh, Jyoti
Vol. 67 No. 3, March-June 2016, 3 unnumbered + pp. 1-7

This article focuses on an annual event that is held in Srinagar which draws inspiration from Prince Dara Shikoh who set up a library in Pari Mahal and was interested in the syncretic bonds between texts and traditions of Hinduism and Islam. The organizers have used this platform to hold a series of workshops and performances to create awareness about the region’s arts and the various religious and social communities that inhabit the space.

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Editorial Note
Ahmed, Monisha
Vol. 67 No. 3, March-June 2016, p. 8

This non-thematic issue brings together essays that focus on identity and belonging, assimilation and transformation, the long-standing tradition of pluralism.

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Icons and Identities: The Work and Lives of Bronzecasters in Swamimalai
Balaswaminathan, Sowparnika
Vol. 67 No. 3, March-June 2016, pp. 10-23

The pilgrimage town of Swamimalai, which lies in the heartland of Tamil Nadu's historic district of Thanjavur, is home to a thriving community of bronzecasters, some of whom trace their lineage to the Vishwakarma caste architects who built the great Chola temples. Unlike their predecessors who lived in a temple-centric economy supported by royal patronage, the Swamimalai sculptors create idols that become processional deities and live in a neoliberal market-oriented economy, supplementing their income by selling idols as handicraft objects. The international and nationalistic recognition of the artistic and historical value of antique bronzes facilitates the contemporary secular market. This article traces the path of South Indian bronzes from museums, to the craft industry, to their makers, and analyzes how the value of tradition can both inhibit and engender the lives, practices and identities of living artists.

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“Wherever a person lives, he ends up belonging there”: A Brief Anecdotal History of Upar Kot
Ali, Meher
Vol. 67 No. 3, March-June 2016, pp. 24-33

This essay focuses on qissas or anecdotes of small incidents that make up everyday life in small towns in India. These can be seen as alternative histories of a place, removed from official census and surveys that categorize communities and are preoccupied with accuracy of facts. It uses both image and text to tell the story.

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Invisible Identities, Uncertain Futures? Upholding the Cultural Heritage of Kolkata's Chinatown
Bose, Kamalika
Vol. 67 No. 3, March-June 2016, pp. 34-45

In a landscape of fast-disappearing ethnic differences, the continued, palpable presence of the Chinese community in Kolkata points to a socio-cultural resilience that is as unique as it is admirable. While historical and political turbulences drove this once-enterprising band of traders behind high-walled territories and compelled them to sever ties with mainstream urban society, the “Cheenis” of Kolkata have held fast to their cultural forms and practices within the confines of the old Chinatown precinct in central Kolkata. This essay explores the heritage of Chinatown by delving into its architectural forms, food, festivals and religious fervour—all of which add rich colours to the multicultural canvas that is Kolkata.

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Conversation: Anurupa Roy of UNIMA and Sudip Gupta of Dolls Theatre with Mousumi Roy Chowdhury
Roy Chowdhury, Mousumi
Vol. 67 No. 3, March-June 2016, pp. 46-57

A conversation with puppet theatre directors, Delhi-based Anurupa Roy of Katkatha and General Secretary of the India Chapter of UNIMA, and Calcutta-based Sudip Gupta of Dolls Theatre about the experiences of traditional and modern puppeteers in India, art funding, the state of research on traditional puppetry, and the need for a puppet academy that would offer formal training courses and provide a common platform for both traditional and modern puppeteers. The case of the Bhaat puppeteers of Rajasthan and other artists settled in the urban slum of the Kathputli colony of Shadipur Depot of Delhi that awaits demolition, threatening to destroy the arts and the livelihoods of all these traditional artists, many of them internationally acclaimed, is a case in point on policymakers’ ignorance of the needs of traditional artists. Anurupa Roy speaks extensively on the research and the master classes conducted by UNIMA, India, that could guide policymakers.

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Laura Letinsky-Telephone Game: Photography and Textiles in Translation
Westerbeck, Colin
Vol. 67 No. 3, March-June 2016, pp. 58-65

This photo essay attempts to situate some of Laura Letinsky’s new photographs from India in the context of the photographer’s career in which they represent a new departure. It takes the reader back to Letinsky’s first photographic project and shows her gradual evolution in moving away from renditions of her own life to a renewed perspective on the genre of still life. Her holiday photographs from India are a subversion of her earlier work, creating an impact crater from which the genre of still life can be recovered with a new intent.

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The Condition of Tibetan Monasteries in the 1930s and '40s as Recorded by Giuseppe Tucci
Lo Bue, Erberto
Vol. 67 No. 3, March-June 2016, pp. 66-75

This essay analyses Giuseppe Tucci’s observations on the conditions and problems of conservation of religious buildings, images and texts, as well as on Buddhist practice, as he could observe them particularly during his fieldwork in West Tibet and Southwest Tibet prior to the Chinese invasion. Throughout his writings Tucci complained frequently, sometimes bitterly, about the poor state of conservation of important ancient temples and religious images in Tibetan monasteries, especially those not belonging to the Dalai Lama’s religious order, as he found them at the time of his expeditions to Tibet, generally viewing the clergy as responsible for such state of affairs. Tucci’s observations on the subject are found less in scholarly works than in reader-friendly articles and travel accounts, often untranslated, published chiefly in Italian periodicals spanning the period from his first expedition to Ladakh in 1928 to the last one to Tibet in 1948.

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Reflections on In the Name of the Goddess
Sinha, Gayatri
Vol. 67 No. 3, March-June 2016, pp. 76-81

Gayatri Sinha reviews Tapati Guha-Thakurta's In the Name of the Goddess.

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The Fabric of India
Ahmed, Monisha
Vol. 67 No. 3, March-June 2016, pp. 82-89

Monisha Ahmed reviews The Fabric of India, an exhibition curated by Rosemary Crill and Divia Patel, on at Victoria & Albert Museum, London.

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Book Reviews
Vol. 67 No. 3, March-June 2016, pp. 90-95

Two volumes on the N.C. Mehta Collection by Ratan Parimoo, reviewed by Sunil Kothari; 50 Years of the National Institute of Design 1961–2011 edited by Shilpa Das, reviewed by Kirti Trivedi.

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