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Happy New Year! The landmark of new beginnings as we experience
the global togetherness of watching the countdown clocks in our respective
time zones on December 31st. From here marks fresh starts, yet with us we
carry the retrospective accoutrements of the year gone by. In the year 2017
we have witnessed both tragedy and triumph, and events which have left
the landscape of our country undoubtedly changed, perhaps forever. Yet as
always the art scene has continued to run parallel as a reflection and we
continue to see growth– after all; when before has the spirit of Indian art
ever been dampened by adversity?

This year is like a blank canvas before us, and to begin we hark back
to our creative roots in our issue dedicated to the Indigenous Art of India.
Not only do we take a look at Indigenous Art in its ancient historical
context, but also the multifarious ways in which our native art forms
have been carried into modern history and the contemporary age we live
in today. Our nation is in many ways unique in terms of the way in which
our Indigenous Art forms inspire the contemporary creative landscape.

Independent researcher and art connoisseur Vikas Harish delves into
the complexities of Folk and Tribal art’s development and perception in
society, touching on ‘appropriation’ of Indigenous Art not only by the
British during pre-independence, but in our own society in the present
day. The rift between Indigenous art forms and ‘Contemporary Artists’
continues to be both challenged and perpetuated to this day. Legendary
tribal artist Jangarh Singh Shyam, the founder of Gond Art as we know
it today, is one of the courageous individuals who marked the struggle for
Folk and Tribal artists to gain their deserved recognition as artists in their
own right. We take a look at the book and subsequent exhibition titled ‘The
Enchanted Forest’ co-curated by Jangarh Singh Shyam’s close friend and
art collector Mitchell Crites. Touching on the role of women in Indigenous
Art Mallika Chakrawarti writes about three female Madhubani artists
who have invaluably furthered this relatively contemporary movement.

The Mask Making tradition of Assam is just one of the living mask
making traditions of India, explored by Dr. Raj Kumar Mazinder in his
article on the heritage stature of Sri Sri Natun Samaguri Satra, Majuli.
Dr. Ganesh Nandi analyzes the importance of museums in promoting
our historical creative culture in his article on the newly formed Barak
Museum in Southern Assam, and researcher Priya Verma looks into the
tribal art and culture of Bastar, Chhattisgarh.

A variety of block-printing terms and processes are concisely
described by Madan Meena in the article ‘Ajrakh: Sindh to Barmer’ and
photographer Prashanta Seal gives us a window into the present day lives
of the Meena Tribe; a tribal community originating from Rajasthan and
the earthen craft tradition which they have kept alive for generations. We
have a variety of other writers and researchers who have contributed to
this issue, and analyze the multifarious angles of Indigenous Art from
traditional tattooing traditions to contemporary miniature painting.
Happy Reading, Happy New Year, and as always, feel free to contact us
with your feedback and suggestions.

-Siddhartha Tagore

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