Saturday, May 16, 2015
The idea to make a childrens book based on this Gond Folklore happened in 2013 when I was in Paris for the presentation for "Verncular India" hosted by Gallerie Andershus Paris.Barbara Pillot the co author and Gayantri Shantaram both ardent lovers of folklores and tribal art were mesmerized by the beautiful paintings .Barbara having previous experience in translating children's books from various languages into French was keen to do a book based on the famous Gond folklore" Udata Hathi"(Flying elephant).
We started looking for an artist who would appropriately illustrate the story.After much discussions we decided on Rajendra Shyam who had aptly depicted this folklore in many of his paintings.
With the help of Gayatri , Barbara and myself were able to bring out the real essence of the story in the French language.Barbara prepared the manuscript for the book .Looking for a French publisher was a difficult task.The book was finally accepted and published by Jasmine Du editions Paris, France. In this incredibly illustrated book , Raju (Rajendra Shyam) has depicted the domestication of the elephant by humans .
Rajendra Shyam, depicts the Gondi tales in great detail on his canvases. His favourite colour is brown in all its shades. He has adopted banda, the rope used to bind sheaves of grain, as his signature infill motiff to provide texture to his forms.
Rajendra has exhibited his work at Nottingham’s New Art Exchange Gallery, London in 2009.Raju in collaboration with Venkant Shyam also painted a 70kg fiberglass elephant, Udata Hathi as a part of the Elephant Parade Mela.His depictions of tales of deity Bada Dev have been exhibitited at Horniman Art Gallery London in June 2011.
According to Gondi folklore, the winged elephant (Udata Hathi) was used by Gods and Goddesses in heaven, to transport them from place to place. One day, when the Lord was resting he told the elephant to take a break. The elephant decided to fly to the earth. Upon reaching the earth, he was delighted to find fields of sugarcane and banana trees. As soon as he started eating the sugarcane the villagers came and tried to scare him off. But the elephant would not move. The villagers then called the Lord and asked him to intervene. The Lord was displeased with the Elephant and asked him never to go to earth again.
A few days later, the Elephant went back to Earth to eat the sugarcane, he had loved the lush forests and the bananas. The villagers were upset, they asked the Lord to help .The Lord was furious and told the villagers to organize a feast and the Elephant was invited to join the revelry too. After enjoying a hearty meal and the Mahua wine the elephant fell asleep. Whilst he was asleep, the Lord cut off his wings .He gave one to the Banana tree and one to the Peacock. From that day the Peacock has a beautiful Plumage and the Banana tree has large leaves The elephant was relieved of his duties for the Lord and remained on earth ever after to be domesticated by human beings.
Posted by Padmaja Srivastava