Abstract & Excerpts: TMYS Review June 2024

    Amazon India link for TMYS Review June 2024 is available here.

    (Available worldwide via Amazon)



    NOTE FROM THE SERIES EDITOR by Dr. Sourav Banerjee


    TMYS Review, a quarterly imprint of www.tellmeyourstory.biz (TMYS), began in 2020 with the vision of popularising stories from personal experiences and academic research. Diverse themes covered under TMYS Review are conscious about documenting women's history of a generation because for every subject, every topic, women have a different story to tell which points towards all those aspects that the society as a whole and people individually must take note and respond to. The effort has been recognised by global thought leaders and universities with their generous participation and/or collaborations. TMYS Review works on sparking gender sensitivity by engaging a community of emerging and established scholars/writers through creative writing and critical thinking. The primary audience comprises of students – the future torchbearers and other literary enthusiasts, who are constantly inspiring and moulding the world with their words.



    EDITORIAL By Haimanti Bagchi (Project Lead)


    The artistic potentials of the art forms, carried out by the Indigenous population, can pave a significant junction to comprehend the individual as well as the collective identities, the socio-cultural, and political intersections based on spatially and temporally nuanced metaphors. These art forms signify the intertwining of geo-politics and cultural history, encapsulating the enduring journey of acculturation spanning centuries and diverse geographical realms. The Indigenous or tribal identity is often misrepresented or underrepresented and has been misunderstood for ages as primitive and uncivilized. According to the UN factsheet, “It is estimated that there are more than 370 million Indigenous people spread across 70 countries worldwide. Practicing unique traditions, they retain social, cultural, economic, and political characteristics that are distinct from those of the dominant societies in which they live.” Essentially, the artistic performances of these communities steer deep into the psyche, ethos, and understanding of the world, the nature, and the complexities of survival of the Indigenous in the neo-consumerist world. Their artistic performances help them indulge in the mnemonic oral traditions and deep-rooted Indigenous knowledge system, which form the basis of their day-to-day practices and structure the core of their belief systems.

    The cultural rendition as a result of artistic performances is not limited to paintings, sculptures, dance, and theatre, but also provides major insights into the living oral traditions, culinary practices, and ritualistic performances of the Indigenous communities, as a matter of daily practice of communication and rendering their oral histories, rather than addressing it as a mere profession. Since antiquity, humans have been producing art as a medium to communicate elementary features about their community life, practices, and beliefs; etc. These are now the main focus of ethnographic research for understanding prehistoric information and belief systems, including their oral histories and artistic expressions. On the other hand, the dominance of Fine Art (in popular context) over tribal art has always marginalized the latter in mainstream practices and research. However, in the Indian context, a sort of continuum could be found that merges the classical art forms with the Indigenous art forms, without perceiving any hiccups. For example, the ‘Kathakar’ tradition (oral tradition of performance) which was a performance of oral storytelling with some specific body movements and gestures, gave birth to the ‘Kathak’ dance and later came to be identified as a classical dance, and saw its peak during the Mughal era. Similarly, the tribal antecedent of the ‘Odissi’ dance form is the ‘Gotipua’ and ‘Mahari’ tradition.





    Poet: Tejaswinee Roychowdhury


    “Bhil Art is instinctive and primordial, born out of an ancient connection with nature.” *


    I confess: I am neither aficionado nor connoisseur.


    Poet: Nivedita Dey



    Mortared minds in gluttonous apathy sentence

    earthen-heart siblings to demarcated quasi-life.


    Mother Nature rushes in to provide

    overdue compensations, birthrights

    that arrive from no other quarter to this day.


    The river bends. Her lucid arms

    garland their mud-splattered breasts blooming

    like flaming Polaash buds

    dappling a dehumanized grey horizon

    with fiery autonomy; woody, unfelled lives

    coloring the canvas of conformity with

    earth-scented, will-winged anomaly.


    Poet: Nivedita Dey



    We paint them in a hundred shades, and yet

    none of our colours capture their truest hues!


    Mystery's children, they bloom like fragrant Queen

    of the Night, never jostling for the neon spotlight.


    Monarchs in lush green cocoons, they secretly grow

    beyond the translucent veil untouched for eons.



    Poet: Sourabhi Dutta Roy



    The night I heard my mother cry for the first time

    I was only nine.

    "Betty Jones, Mama doesn't cry"—

    That's what you had told me every night

    The night I saw my mother's tainted golden hue skin for the first time

    I was only nine.

    "Corsets, baby. I ain't born a sexy little thing"—

    That's what you had told me every time

    The night I saw my mother choking on the smoke for the first time

    I was only nine.

    "Betty Jones, you gotta cook when you gotta cook"—

    That's what you had told me each night

    Almost as if singing—

    Songbirds serenading.



    Poet: Sarbani Chakravarti


    The rustic tale on the red ochre wall,

    The chewed bamboo stem, a primordial brush,

    A story sketched in shapes, of the mundane ways.


    The circle sun brings the birds

    on the conical trees.

     Triangle men shaded,

    And women too with pyramidal base,

    As they trod for chores of everyday.



    Short Stories


    Author: Malini Nair




    Young Devakis upturned face was ecstatic as it caught the dancing raindrops from a sky as dark as her glowing skin. The sun at Attappadi made a deferential attempt to shimmer through the veil of the dark clouds. Devaki ran out of her hut to the center of the hamlet. Her coarse cotton chela was drenched and clung to her, accentuating her curves. The garment was wrapped under her shoulders, covering her breasts, and winding down to her knees. The rain gods had showered their blessings. It was time to celebrate.



    There was jubilation as men, women, and children rushed out of their bamboo and coconut frond homes, their eyes shining and their hands thrown up towards the sky in gratitude. It was time to thank the divine Mother Earth. God Mallishwaran and Goddess Malli were pleased with them!

    "Come, my people, let us dance!” Devaki called out her dialect, lyrical yet powerful. At twenty, she was in the flush of her youth.

    The villagers were lost in an uplifting cadence of joy and pathos, a melody that weaved their souls and their pasts together, wrapping them with the cloak of nature. Their feet gently stomped the wet earth with a rhythm as old as the earth. The young men brought out their rustic percussion instruments, the Pera and Dhavil. Two young boys swayed happily as they created a rhythmic, ringing sound with their Jalras.



    Author: Shubhangi Sinha



    “How much for this cushion cover?”

    “No, no, this is not for sale! This is for display purpose only.”

    “Oh, okay. Where can I buy this?

    “Madam ji, I do not know. This art was never for sale.” She sighed, not making any eye contact with the woman standing in front of her.

    “Maa!” Her daughter signalled her to stop talking.

    “Haan, haan, you also tell me what to do. You all have grown very smart, I see. You only know what to say. I will stop talking only.” She crossed her arms and sat down on the chair next to her. Like a grumpy kid, she kept looking at her feet.

    The two other women watched her.

    “I apologise for her behaviour, ma’am. All of this is for sale. Are you looking for anything in particular or would you like to peruse the items. We also have some framed paintings if you are interested.”

    “May I speak to your mother for a minute?” The madam asked.

    The young lady could have talked about the curtains and cushions for at least fifteen minutes, explaining every intricate detail of the artwork. However, she had no answer to this particular request of her customer. She and her mother had come to Ranchi all the way from Hazaribagh – a small town about 90 km from the capital city of Jharkhand. They had been living here for some time now because the Sohrai business is growing more in the capital. She looked at her mother, expecting she would respond. The mother seemed to be lost in her own angry world, cursing everyone else who tried to enter. She said nothing. She kept looking at her feet. Her hands were still folded in front of her.

    The madam bent down on the floor, next to the grumpy old child. The child stopped frowning and looked up at her. “What?”

    “Why do you not want to sell this?”

    She left the chair, walked past her daughter, opened the door behind her, entered the room, leaving the door ajar.



    Author: Ruma Chakraborty



    The connecting flight had been delayed. The airport lounge abounded with irate travellers, some openly griping, others grumbling under their breath. Salomi Kerketta did neither. She looked around with a neutral gaze, soaking in the vibes. It helped her as a researcher to study human behaviour. As her eyes swept through the crowd, she chanced to glance at the large monitor of the television overhead. Some story about the development project to build a dam raising hackles of the locals was being aired. On the verge of turning away from the screen, Salomi’s eyes rivetted back to see an image that seemed vaguely familiar. A tribal painting of a woman astride a horse, holding aloft a sword stirred vague memories in her mind.

    “Where on earth have I seen this image before?” She mused. The image was strangely captivating.

    In a flash, it came back to her. In their Ohio home, there was a small alcove in her mother’s room, hidden from common view where her mother kept her precious possessions. They were remnants of her youth spent near Hazaribagh. Her father had done everything to anglicise the family. They were Oraons from Jharkhand, India. They were Kurukhs according to her mother but to her father, they were marginalised Indians making it big abroad. The ultimate success story. Her mother painted beautiful pictures of birds, plants, circled lotus and geometric forms which she hid in the alcove. From time to time, she brought them out when she thought no one was watching and gazed with rapt attention at them. Salomi usually hid and watched her mother, perplexed by her intense attachment to these paintings and rituals that she carried out on the sly, without her father’s knowledge.

    “Strange how much I remember,” thought Salomi.

    She was enroute to attending Samvaad in Jamshedpur for the tribal conclave. The waves of recollections, her companion at the Mumbai airport. She had taken up an assignment to study the harmonious balance between preservation of tribal art and commercialisation; strategies to learn from tribal art to survive the Anthropocene.

    The anchor of the programme on the telly was getting all hyper about the growing public dissent regarding the building of the dam. The people around the project would face the inevitable displacement. The uprooting from their ancestral lands where they had laid roots for eons. It seemed that nothing had changed in the lives of the tribals in India or elsewhere in the world. The more regimes changed, the more they remained the same. The pre-independence wretched condition of the tribals seemed to have morphed into a kind of quasi-feudal agrarian exploitation, post-independence. Salomi ruefully shook her head and tried to snap her attention back to the railing reporter’s diatribe on the television.




    by Sarah Rahaman Shaikh









    Author: Dr. Swarup Kumar Haldar

    TRIBAL WALL PAINTING: a Distinct Culture Encompassing Knowledge and Nature and the Role of Women in its Evolution


    Tribal communities in India, residing mainly in arid, forested, or mountainous regions, play a crucial role as stewards of the natural environment. Their livelihoods, centered on agriculture and Minor Forest Produce, intertwine with their rich cultural heritage. This paper delves into the socio-economic development of Indian tribes through their art, particularly focusing on painting traditions prevalent among tribal communities.

    Traditional knowledge, passed down through generations, forms the backbone of tribal life, encompassing practices like traditional medicine and artistic expressions. In West Bengal's Purulia district, tribal wall paintings, predominantly crafted by women, adorn village huts, reflecting a deep connection with nature and community life. These paintings, influenced by ancient cave art, depict geometric patterns, floral motifs, and scenes from daily life.

    Despite the richness of tribal art, factors such as rapid modernization and economic constraints threaten its preservation. Efforts to recognize and remunerate tribal artists are crucial to sustain these traditions. Additionally, the dissemination of folk art through mediums like photography can raise awareness and appreciation among younger generations.

    In the face of urbanization and globalization, preserving folk art becomes imperative for maintaining cultural diversity and identity. The interplay between tradition and modernity is essential, with folk art serving as a conduit for cultural pluralism and resilience against homogenization. By safeguarding and cultivating folk arts, Indian society can navigate through its profound cultural crisis while celebrating the vibrant tapestry of its diverse cultural heritage.

    Keywords: tribal wall painting, tribal culture, tribal community, tribal art, wall art.



    Tribal communities play a crucial role as guardians of the natural environment, with approximately ninety-two percent residing in arid, forested, or mountainous areas throughout India. Their livelihoods primarily revolve around agricultural practices and the gathering of Minor Forest Produce. The core regions of tribal culture in India encompass the central, midland, and northeastern areas. Rooted deeply in tradition, tribal arts in India have evolved distinctive techniques and characteristics, each reflecting the unique aesthetic essence of its respective tribe. These diverse artistic expressions are increasingly recognized as autonomous art forms, characterized by their composition, line, colour, texture, and rhythm. This research paper explores the socio-economic development of Indian tribes through their art, scrutinizing their significant impact on various aspects of society and economy.

    India's traditional heritage is characterized by its rich tapestry of Tribal and Folk Arts and Culture. Across the annals of history, the diverse artistic and cultural expressions born from India's tribal and rural communities have consistently showcased their remarkable creativity. Beyond their inherent aesthetic beauty, these forms of tribal and folk art and culture have served as vital pillars in fostering national unity, strengthening social cohesion, nurturing communal harmony, reinforcing core values, and championing humanistic ideals among the populace. However, the relentless march of time and the onset of globalization have ushered in a homogenized macro-culture, threatening the vibrant diversity of India's tribal and folk cultures. Under the pervasive influence of this dominant macro-culture, the unique and heterogeneous cultural identities of various communities across the country are facing erosion and attrition, placing the exceptional socio-cultural richness of these communities at risk.

    Tribal Art in India

    Painting, fundamentally the act of applying paint, can serve either artistic or practical purposes, such as decoration or protective coating. As a form of visual art, paintings encapsulate ideas and emotions on a two-dimensional surface, employing elements like shape, colour, line, tone, and texture in unique ways to convey sensations of movement, volume, space, and light. Whether depicting natural scenes, narratives, or abstract concepts, paintings stand as one of the oldest forms of visual expression, with some dating back approximately 40,000 years, notably seen in cave paintings from the Neolithic period.

    Wall paintings, often referred to as murals, are created directly on walls, seamlessly incorporating architectural elements into the artwork. Murals have been discovered dating back to the Upper Paleolithic Age and the Egyptian era, with the term 'mural' gaining popularity following the Mexican 'Muralista' Art Movement. Among the various styles and methods of creating wall paintings, the fresco technique stands out as the most well-known, utilizing a combination of lime wash and natural water-soluble colours.

    ‘Deoal Chitra’, a form of wall painting, is conducted as a ritual involving the cleansing of walls followed by the application of a mixture comprising cow dung (considered sacred) and mud. Subsequently, these walls are adorned with diverse patterns and motifs inspired by nature itself. Predominantly undertaken by women, the creation of these paintings utilizes materials sourced directly from nature. The artworks produced a diverse range from depictions based on cultural beliefs to abstract compositions that satisfy the artists' creative impulses. The vibrant colours employed stand in stark contrast to the typically monotonous lifestyle of the practitioners. Although the art of ‘Deoal Chitra’ is predominantly practiced in select interior regions of Purulia, Bankura, and Medinipur, variations exist across different locations within these areas, resulting in distinctive regional styles.




    The Consolidated Link: all panel discussions can be accessed here



    Project Assistant & Author: Angana Bose


    Tribal art occupies a pivotal role in the domain of art and cultural heritage. It not only brings the artistic skill of Indigenous cultures to the fore, but also bolsters their identities by unearthing and crosscutting their abundant cultural traditions, beliefs, and histories. Nevertheless, the portrayal of Indigenous art in modern artistic endeavors frequently prompts inquiries concerning genuineness, appropriation, and safeguarding of ethnic legacy. Tribal Art manifests in cultural identity formation of the community. The bottlenecks Indigenous communities encounter in safeguarding their cultural legacy, and the ethical concerns associated with general artists adopting tribal motifs and symbols, problematize assimilation, modernization and preservation of Indigenous communities. Seeking to examine the intersectionality of tribal art, it is imperative to raise relevant discussions with various subject matter experts who have observed and studied the community and the art form closely. The discussions, through an interdisciplinary approach, needed to delve deep into the lived experiences of the Adivasis and help situate them from the peripheries to the mainstream discourse in pursuit of a holistic comprehension of Indigenous positionality and their engagement in the contemporary capitalized world.

    Six digital panel discussions held under TMYS Review June 2024, revolved around the exploration of Tribal Art & Tribal Representation in Art within the broader context of Tribal Identity & Culture. These discussions were categorized into six major topics under the all-encompassing subtheme: Tribal Art.

    1. Tribal PaintingsCreative Symbolism and Ecocritical Preservation.

    2. Ethnographic ArtSocio-economic Development of Tribal Communities.

    3. Artistic DissentDismantling Power Dynamics by the Adivasi.

    4. Tribal HandicraftsExploring Gender Roles as Artisans and Consumers.

    5. Indigenous PerformancesAnalysing Women's Narratives.

    6. Ethnography of Martial ArtsTraditions and Rituals of the Tribes.

    Panelists from both Indigenous and non-indigenous ethnicities and multidisciplinary academic domains, having professional field experiences, delved into extensive, in-depth dialogues in the panel discussions. Through their sincere multicultural and intersectional perspectives, they threw light on tribal art and its penetration even beyond artistic spaces. The exchanges foregrounded the vision of examining the historical and cultural importance of tribal art within various Indigenous societies. The position of tribal art in modern artistic expressions were also analyzed, encompassing visual arts, performance arts, and digital media, ascertaining the obstacles encountered by Indigenous populace in the preservation of their tribal artistic expressions. The discussions also attempted to examine the ethical ramifications of cultural appropriation in relation to tribal art.


    The first topic titled, “Tribal PaintingsCreative Symbolism and Ecocritical Preservation” featured Siddharth Shankar UpadhyayDushyant DangiManjula Poyil, and Meenakshi Dubey Pathak, as the esteemed speakers. They engaged in striking a balance between conservation of traditional art forms with the need for public accessibility and engagement in the contemporary times, artistic representations’ contribution to environmental conservation and sustainability and navigating between preserving traditional folk-art forms and expressing one’s personal artistic vision in incorporating ecological themes and concerns. The delegates also shared rich insights on how specific art forms like the rock art or funeral ritual and rites are necessary to recalibrate and convey Indigenous communities' ecological knowledge as parts of tribal wisdom and cultural heritage.

    Panelist, Siddharth Shankar Upadhyay, elucidated his viewpoint on the navigation between preserving traditional folk-art forms and expressing personal artistic vision in incorporating ecological themes and concerns into one’s scholarly processes. He also bared how the promotion and commercialization of tribal art by the Anthropocene adversely impacted the preservation of cultural authenticity and ecological values, recommending measures for ensuring sustainable promotion of tribal art without compromising its integrity. He added how scholarship reflects the challenges faced by Indigenous communities in preserving their cultural heritage and natural resources by envisioning folk paintings’ contribution to social and environmental activism within tribal communities and beyond. Additionally, he provided tactics for fostering genuine portrayal, cooperation, and reciprocal regard between artists from the mainstream and Indigenous groups.

    Dushyant Dangi, the founder of Tribal Art, India, elaborated on the significance of preserving and promoting tribal paintings and the need to balance the conservation of traditional art forms with the need for public accessibility and engagement from the occupational standpoint. He also underpinned the key roadblocks in maintaining the integrity and longevity of tribal art through recommending innovative conservation approaches specifically suited for safeguarding these artworks while respecting their cultural context. His key takeaways from the Indigenous artists he closely works with daily are associated to their geographical adaptability, diversity within artistic styles, sacred interpretations and diverse and ever-changing motifs and communicative patterns.


    Author and Project Assistant: Sarah Rahaman Shaikh


    The diverse layered intricacy of art provides a free space for various artists to explore intriguing Indigenous themes representing tribal art in the most beautiful way possible. In the growing global market, the demand for ethnic cultural designs and motifs is intensive. Irrespective of any gender or religious background, mainstream society proudly displays the arts in the form of attires, portraits, sculptures, jewellery, or tattoos. Tribal art resonates with the deep-rooted historic fabric that has been alive and young for centuries. However, the misfortune of ignorance, unawareness, and insensitivity towards tribal representations in art brings about the challenge of keeping the ingenuity of tribal life alive.

    Every Indigenous group has its unique identity and generational spirit of passing and protecting the cultural heritage from alienated interventions. As the years pass, the ardent need to preserve the fading beauty of tribal identity is becoming crucial. In the age of globalization, homogenous generalization and stereotyping of the array of ethnic richness, education, respect and appreciation can combat the dying nuances. Necessary steps are needed to give the deserving recognition to the tribal artists. Education is a powerful tool to instill knowledge and wisdom among the tribal groups to represent themselves and shield their unique history from getting vitiated and exploited by the general public. Through regional cinemas and documentaries, a renewed contribution can be made to re-establish and fight the misrepresentation of the tribes. In the modern graphic age, special attention must be paid to keeping the ‘purity’ of tribal art intact as it has the potential of getting easily manipulated by altering the specificity of tribal motifs. At the same time, it offers a vast possibility of introducing the knowledge of ethnic styles of art to the mainstream media.

    In the mission to spread awareness and provide young scholars with precious knowledge, Tell Me Your Story hosted enthralling and comprehensive virtual panel discussions under TMYS Review, June 2024 under the theme of ‘Tribal Art and Tribal Representation in Art’ under the broader framework of “Tribal Identity & Culture”. Six topics  aimed to specifically cover the eccentric world of indigeneity under the subtheme: Tribal Representation in Art. They are:   

    1. Historic Paintings and Sculpture: Representation of Tribal Women    
    2. Indigenous Presence or Symbolisms in Modern Art: Graphics, Cartoons and Ad Films
    3. Tribal Communities in Art: The Misrepresentation and Stereotyping    
    4. Tribal Designs in Mainstream Jewellery: Adaptation and Impact on Global Market
    5. Body Art (Tattoo): Influencing the Spread of Tribal Culture in Urban Fashion
    6. Mainstream and Regional Documentaries and Cinema: Depiction of Tribal Women

    Covering these engrossing topics, various scholars, academicians and artists from both tribal and non-tribal backgrounds were invited to present their viewpoints gained from personal and professional experiences. The panel discussions contributed in creating an intriguing and safe periphery for the multicultural and interdisciplinary discourses to break the stereotypical notions of the tribal groups.

    The first panel discussion titled “Historic Paintings and Sculpture: Representation of Tribal Women” included Paul Abraham, Haimanti Bagchi, and Dr. Jaseera C M. as the esteemed speakers. The discussion revolved around the diversified motifs, symbols, and allusions embedded in the magnificent tribal arts. The celebration of feminine power in tribal art was highlighted by the speakers. Godna, Warli, and Bhil arts were explored, and special limelight was given to the importance of persistence in the authenticity of the ethnic artworks. It was observed that, if tribal art can pave its way to the contemporary style of art without subverting from the roots, both tribal appreciation and awareness can be achieved. It has also become a dire need to pay attention to the tribal artists consisting of women who are the creator as well as the subjects of art. Since transience is an inevitable natural course, tribal art has the potential to evolve. But the balance to fulfil the popular urban demands with the respectable and sensible representation of tribal art should be prioritized and protected.    

    Mr. Paul Abraham began his insights by first sharing a brief explanation of the Sarmaya Art Foundation which is a multi-genre collection set up in 2015. The foundation was dedicated towards collecting various Indigenous, and community art forms and preserve their legacy. He drew parallels between community art and tribal art, as community art is rooted in their historical, cultural, and social background. He further emphasized on the significance of women’s central role in the artworks of Mata ni Pachedi, Madubani paintings, Tholu Bonmalata leather puppets, and Bhil paintings. 

    The Vagri nomadic tribal group is responsible for the creation of the Mata ni Pachedi art form whose central focus is on the female form of shakti. The land of Madhubani has a strong association with Sita Maa and therefore the art forms have an empowering female representation that retells the narratives of Sita Maa through Madhubani paintings. Tholu Bonmalata leather puppets draw inspiration from the epics like the Ramayana and the Mahabharata where a character named Bangaraka acts as an intermediator of the social messages and possesses the liberty to be raunch, vocal and expressive. This is too unconventional for the females during the ancient times.

    A significant portion of Bhil tribe and Madhubani artists comprises women, who adeptly integrate traditional art forms with modern contemporary issues. Their distinctive thematic choices and innovative exploration of colour palettes make the tribal art cultural, contemporary and relevant without subverting the ingenuity of the ethnic style.



    Amazon India link for TMYS Review June 2024 is available here.

    (Available worldwide via Amazon)



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