Tribal Trail

Queen's Garden in Camp has been reverberating with tribal songs for the past one week. All roads leading to the Tribal Research and Training Institute (TRTI) are in a carnival scene. A group of musicians in yellow turbans croon folk songs into microphones, and their music is met by yellow bandana-donning dancers; swaying like flowers under the blazing sun. The tribal handicraft exhibition at TRTI is a melting pot of tribal culture, brewing a concoction of handicraft and song and dance.

Each of the 25 stalls here offers a sample of inherited tradition. Rajendra Sode has travelled to the city from Mukandev Gaon in Nasik to display his bamboo works. Sode, who belongs to the Kokna tribe, picks a bamboo flower-vase and speaks, "We specialise in making wares and showpieces out of bamboo. There are flower vases, lamp shades, miniature bullock carts and whistles." Each bamboo article is handcrafted, and Sode says the process is tedious. But the labour bears fruit when Sode gets to exhibit his works in big cities. "Dilli tak gaya hai mera kaam (my works have even been showcased in Delhi)," he says.

Sode's neighbour at the exhibition is Sudam Kashiram Bhoye, a native of Jawhar district. Bhoye's material of choice is papier mache, using which he creates artifacts after a day of toil on the fields. Bhoye believes papier mache is a great medium to work with, and the items are very durable. "I create figurines of turtles and deer, and more elaborate foot-high human figures engaging in myriad activities such as hunting and archery," he says.

Bhujraj Bhoye from Gondiya district sits painting on skeletal peepal leaves. Bhoye stumbled upon this style somewhere and was enamoured by it. His base, the peepal leaf stripped down to its skeleton, dry as paper, still retains a natural greenness. Bhoye says, "I take a bunch of leaves and leave them in an airtight earthen pot for 10 days. When I unseal the pot, this is what I get," says Bhoye, holding up a specimen. He is a signboard painter by profession, but has found artistic expression through his paintings on leaves.

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