The art of the Palaeolithic age
Shifted to the mud walls,
Well adorned after harsh monsoon,
Repaired with subtle colours of the earth
Is inscribed- the Sohrai art of the tribal community.
In flora fauna motif illustrated
Through the fingertips in broken lines,
Carved out from poverty
Of broken combs and chewed wood tooth-sticks
Dipped in mud white, yellow ochre and red oxide
Is the tradition of a mother
A heritage for a daughter
The ancestral lineage passed on to generations.
The euphoria dabbed in cloth swabs is
The manganese black contour of Lord Shiva’s blessings
To the newly wed chaste bride.
Fertility and fidelity gilded art,
In her wedding chamber- the Khovar.
Epitomising the spring of plenitude
Hiding in her bosom the art survives.
But, in her teardrop floats
An empty-bellied agrarian
Sitting with folded hands out on the porch.
Sunlight peeping inside the broken thatched roof,
Sits a mother
Celebrating harvest and potency- the Sohrai- now with a GI tag.
Rema T. Das
Author's note: "This is my first ekphrastic writing on Sohrai Art form which is the oldest form of wall painting, continuing since 10,000- 4000 B.C. This art form is practiced by the tribal people of Jharkhand from where I belong. The sohrai has received the Geographical Indication (GI) tag just this year but the artists are still not given the due recognition and their lives are dismal due to poverty. This art form is matriarchal and some artists compare this to the sgraffito technique of Greece."
Rema T. Das teaches English in the Intermediate Section of St. Xavier’s College Ranchi, Jharkhand a suburb in India. She has currently published a poem on the myth of inclusion in education published in the July 2020 issue of Literary Garland and two poems, related to violence on women in Lockdown due to COVID-19 and dismal state of migrant labourers in India, have also been published in Aulos: An Anthology of English Poetry released in paperback worldwide. She is working on trauma literature on Partition as her doctoral thesis. She has presented and published research papers on inclusive education and education for social change in the national seminars. She works in an institution which caters to uplift the tribal children who come from the deprived sections of the society. She believes that through education one can try to remove the social evils prevalent in Indian society due to poverty and poetry is sometimes a refuge to seek help from educated literary minds to bring that change.
The Ekphrastic Review
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