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ARTING

SCIENCE
Editor
BITASTA DAS
Copyright (c) 2016 by Indian Institute of Science.

All rights reserved. This book, or parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form
ARTING
SCIENCE
or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or any
information storage and retrieval system now known or to be invented, without written
permission from the publisher.
Introduction
Human-nature interaction exudes various outcomes. One of them is folk arts. Folk arts are often utility based,
aesthetically pleasing artifacts of a folk group. A functional definition of folk is, the great proportion of the members
of a people that determines the group character and that tends to preserve its characteristic form of civilization and
its customs, arts and crafts, legends, traditions from generation to generation. The knowledge of and about the folk
is called Folklore1 and its systemic study is called Folkloristics.

Folklore, among all the Human Sciences, is probably one of the rare fields of inquiry that transcends disciplinary
boundaries tying all expressive forms together. It encompasses not just the formal and standardized forms but also
the rudimentary and fundamental expressive modes. Folklore is a significant tool to arrive at credible nuances about
what it means to be Human and about human expressive behaviour. However, Folklorists have often lamented that
this discipline has been routinely neglected within the Human Sciences. According to famous Folklorist William A
Wilson, the approaches of many Folklorists themselves are to be blamed for thisof treating folklore as handmaiden
to other disciplines and thus to undermining its own intrinsic worth, the tendency to be preoccupied with the
past at the expense of the present and the tendency to pay more attention to individual folk groups than to the
broader humanity they share are reasons why the potential of Folklore as a discipline has not been fully unraveled.
Nonetheless, in a country like India where majority of the population resides in rural, technologically untouched
societies, it is the folk lexicon that gives expression to their worldview. Looking at the folk expressions would prove
to be a worthy exercise for the blooming scientists of this country for meaningfully engaging with the milieu they
reside in. With this intention, the course Mapping India through the Folk Arts was introduced to the Undergraduate
students of Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore as part of their Humanities curriculum. Humanities is conducted
by the Centre for Contemporary Studies of the institute for the four-year Undergraduate Programme that offers
Bachelor of Science (Research) degree. Humanities is compulsorily taught for the first six semesters and this
particular course is offered in the fourth semester. This course considers the art forms, as viewed in the discipline of
Folkloristics, as means of knowing the regional cultures from inside-out rather than outside-in and is an attempt
to introduce the students to Indian multiculturalism.
1
Folklore consists of legends, music, oral history, proverbs, jokes, popular beliefs, fairy tales, stories, tall tales, and customs
included in the traditions of a culture, subculture, or group. It also includes the set of practices through which those expressive
genres are shared. The study of folklore is sometimes called Folkloristics. This term was suggested by William Thoms, a British
antiquarian in 1846. Thoms had realized that scholarly work on materials of folkloristic nature was being carried on under
various labels such as Popular Antiquities or Popular Literature and therefore needed a single label to designate this area
of inquiry. He therefore suggested a good Saxon compound Folk-Lore - the Lore of the people to replace all other somewhat
cumbersome terms.
This book forefronts the artistic genre that the students of the batch 2012 have generated as their assignment for this Nevertheless, it would be a rather interesting exercise to explore the boundaries of these two discrete disciplines and
course. This batch was the first set of students to be introduced to this course. Each year we delve into one different probe the responses.
form of art and for this particular batch, it was folk visual arts. The emphasis of the assignments, every year, is to push
disciplinary boundaries in order to explore newer and dynamic frontiers of knowledge. Indian Folk Art

Science and Artthe Traditional Debate Folklore is studied under four broad divisionsOral Literature (myth, legend, tale, anecdote, ballads, proverbs and
riddles, chants, laments, prayers etc), Material Culture (costume, architecture, art and craft, recipes etc), Social Folk
Science and Humanities are well defined areas of knowledge today. However during the medieval period, along with Customs (rites of passage, initiation, marriage, death rites, festival and observations) and Performing Arts (music,
grammar, rhetoric and logic, arithmetic, geometry, astronomy and music formed the bulk of education. A major shift dance, drama etc). In the context of Indian culture, however, there is a great fluidity among these divisions. For
occurred in the 17th century when Natural Philosophy emerged as a distinct area of inquiry and a corresponding example, Indian folk arts have aesthetic and practical functions. They often have ritualistic-religious functions. In
shift occurred in the 18th century with the emergence of Moral Philosophy. These two broad fields came to be strictly this sense, then the study of Indian folk arts and craft fall under both the rubrics of Material Culture and Social
defined in the 19th century as disciplines of Science and Humanities. Science became the study of the natural world Folk Customs. Folk arts and craft give pleasure as well as serve practical social and economic end. If pleasure giving
and the embodiment of logo-centric knowledge of authority, authenticity, openness, transparency, finality, certainty function predominates the artifact is called arts, if a practical function predominates it is called craft.
and universality, whereas, Humanities became the study of human civilization and culture.
Indian folk art, like the nation itself, is vibrant, varied and alive. There is a great diversity in texture, colour, patterns
Historian Isaiah Berlin traces the divorce between the Sciences and the Humanities to philosophical historian
and rendition that bespeaks of the depth of the folk vocabulary and makes it a rich repertoire. Art and craft
Giambattista Vico (1668-1744). Vico denied that human beings possessed an unalterable essence. Humans make
produced by the folk can be of three types - ritualistic, utilitarian and individualistic. Few examples of ritualistic
their own history and understand their own doings in a fashion different than the way they understand the
art are Patachitra, Pichuai, Alpana and Kolam. Baskets and pots made of various local resources like bamboo, clay,
external nature. Vico challenged the idea that there is only one set of method to establish the truth. Instead of the
metal etc, distinctive wood carving and embroidery are examples of utilitarian folk art. Some folk artists in the
Enlightenment viewa single set of principles applied to all knowledgeVico applied these contrary thoughts and
course of time have attempted to experiment with new forms giving rise to individualistic type of folk art. These
mounted an attack on the total claims made for the new scientific method. A great debate started, as Berlin indicates
artists develop a unique style staying within the old format. Such innovations can be found today, in the motif of
of which the end is not in sight (Edelman 2006: 69-70).
Madhubani painting, Kantha design and Kalighat Patachitra. One of the features of folk art is that the artist creates
The divide between Natural Science and Humanities has led to many interesting observations. Among them are objects of beauty and aesthetics without any formal training, many times handed down by their ancestors as skill and
the insights made by Behavioural Ecologist Prof. Raghavendra Gadagkar. Prof. Gadagkar writes the differences techniques. Some of the folk art forms attempted by the students are:
(which are of course not free of exceptions) however contrasting they are, have reasons and explanations for
their existence. He writes, Madhubani
Creative intellectual activity is a complicated business. It is necessary to be both correct and creative. The relevance and
Madhubani painting also known as Mithila painting is a style that originated in Mithila region of Bihar. It is done
importance of being correct, that is, of conforming to some accepted standard, diminishes as we move from the natural
with fingers, twigs, brushes, nib-pens, and matchsticks, using natural dyes and pigments and is characterized by eye-
sciences to social sciences, humanities, literature and finally the arts. Inevitably, ones ability to be original and creative falls
catching geometrical patterns. These paintings were mainly done during festive occasions such as birth, marriage,
rapidly as we move in the opposite direction from the arts to literature, humanities, social sciences and finally the natural
Holi, Surya Shasti, Kali puja, Upanayanam, Durga Puja etc. Originally practiced by the women, this painting was
sciences. (Gadagkar 2002: 173)
traditionally done on freshly plastered mud walls and floors of huts, but now they are also done on cloth, handmade
The diverse subject of their study has thus ensued disparity in the form, methodology, analyses and behaviour paper and canvas. There are five distinctive styles in Madhubani -Bharni, Katchni, Tantrik, Godna and Gobar.
in two sets of practices. Over the years, policies have been made to divide educational enterprises into cubicles.
Warli Sohrai Painting

Warli art form is principally practiced by tribes of Maharashtra and Maharashtra-Gujarat border. Warli, traditionally Sohrai is the vibrant tradition of mural painting practiced by the women of farming communities of Hazaribagh
painted on festive occasions such as marriages was done on mud plastered walls with white paint on a dark (mud district of Jharkhand. This mural painting is practiced as a ritual. Sohrai is the art of harvest festival in autumn, using
red) walls. Their paintings were monosyllbic. The circle and triangle comes from their observation of nature, the red, black, yellow and white earth. Large voting images are painted with twigs and kuchis on the walls - bulls, horses
circle representing the sun and the moon, the triangle derived from mountains and pointed trees. with riders, wild animals, trees, lotuses, peacocks, and horned deities. Sohrai paintings are considered to be good
luck paintings.
Kalighat Patachitra
Miniature Painting
Kalighat painting originated in the 19th century Bengal around the Kalighat Kali Temple as souvenir taken by the
visitors from the Kali temple, the paintings over a period of time developed as a distinct school of Indian painting. Miniature paintings are bright, colorful paintings, and small in size. The highlight of these paintings is the intricate
Initially depicting Hindu gods, goddesses and other mythological characters, the Kalighat paintings developed to and delicate brushwork, which lends them a unique identity. The colors are handmade from minerals, vegetables,
depict a variety of traditional and modern themes. Jamini Roy was heavily influenced by the Kalighat paintings, and precious stones, indigo, conch shells, pure gold and silver. There were a number of miniature schools in the country,
evolved his own bold sweeping brush-strokes in the 1920s. including those of Mughals, Rajputs and the Deccan.

Gond Church Painting

Gond art is practised by one of the largest tribes, the Gondi (Gond) people spreading over the eastern-middle part Church Art style is the art of colorfully painting the walls and windows of churches, mosques and other significant
of India. The Gonds paint their walls with vibrant depictions of local flora, fauna and gods such as Marahi Devi and buildings Although traditionally made in flat panels and used as windows, the modern version also includes three-
Phulvari Devi (Goddess Kali). Traditionally made on festive occasions such as Karwa Chauth, Diwali, Ashtami and dimensional structures and sculpture.
Nag Panchmi, Gond painting depicts various celebrations, rituals and mans relationship with nature. The artists use
natural colors derived from charcoal, colored soil, plant sap, leaves, and cow dung. This mystical art form is created Kalamkari
by putting together dots and lines. The paintings are done as offering to nature and are modes of seeking protection
and warding off evil. Kalamkari, literally meaning pen (kalam) and work(kari), is an art work done using a pen. Vegetable dyes are used
to color the designs applied on cloth. The art of painting using organic dyes on cloth was popular in several parts
Cheriyal of India, but this style of Kalamkari flourished at Kalahasti (80 miles north of Chennai) and at Masulipatnam (200
miles east of Hyderabad). The Kalamkari tradition chiefly consists of scenes from Hindu mythology. Figures of
Cheriyal is a small village in Telangana. It is also the name of a folk painting originated here that has served to deities with rich border embellishments were created for the temples. In Masulipatnam, the weavers were involved
educate, entertain, transcribe and preserve history. The paintings are narratives and the scenes are generally arranged in the block printing art, while at Kalahasti, the Balojas (a caste involved in making bangles) took to this art.
in a vertical fashion, with flower patterns separating them. They retell old epics tales of courage, the constant battle
between Good and Evil, the dutiful kings, the gallant warriors and the merciful Gods. It has used to narrate the Sanjhi
Puranas, the Ramayana and Krishna Leela to the masses, as a form of education and enlivening the gatherings, and
became a customary tradition of the professional ballads. They also depicts the ordinary with the same fervour the Sanjhi art is the traditional art of paper cutting from Mathura. The art grew in the 16th and 17th centuries, when
peasants, the weavers and fishermen, barbers and washermen, women engaged in household work are all portrayed the walls and floors of temples were decorated with Sanjhi motifs. The art depicts Indian mythological stories in
against the colorful backdrop of the scrolls and local folk heroes are celebrated along with the old heroes. numerous forms, with predominant focus on Krishnas Leela. To create a Sanjhi design, stencils are made on paper
(mostly handmade) using specially designed scissors. These stencils are placed on flat surfaces or water, where the Arting Science
rangoli has to be drawn. Dry colors are then sifted onto the surface. Filling the colors and lifting the stencils are as
critical as cutting the design. The two domains of knowledgeScience and Art are seemingly different. While the objective of Science is to arrive
at absolute truth, for Arts it is aesthetic expressions. But often we come across practioners candidly admitting the
Phad inflow between the two domains. Scientists such as N. Bohr, P.A.M Dirac, A. Einstein, W. Heisenberg, T.D Lee,
H. Weyl and C.N. Yang have expressed that they have often let their research and results be guided by beauty and
Phad painting is originally a religious scroll painting practiced in Rajasthan. This style of painting is traditionally
aesthetics. Dirac wrote, It is more important to have beauty in ones equation than to have them fit experiment.
done on a long piece of cloth or canvas, known as Phad. The narratives of the folk deities of Rajasthan, mostly of
Weyl said, My work always tried to unite the truth with the beautiful, but when I had to choose one or the other,
Pabuji and Devnarayan are depicted on the Phads. The Bhopas, the priest-singers traditionally carry the painted
I usually chose the beautiful and Yang wrote, The intrinsic elegance and beautiful perfection of the mathematical
Phads along with them and use these as the mobile temples of the folk deities. Traditionally, the Phads are painted
reasoning involved and the complexity and depth of the physical consequences are great sources of encouragement,
with vegetable colors.
and, One learns to hope that nature possesses an order that one may aspire to comprehend.

Mural
Humanities was introduced for the first time at the premier Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore in 2011, as a
Mural Paintings are paintings made on walls of caves and palaces. The color materials on the mural paintings in subject in its nascent Undergraduate Programme. The scientific accomplishment of the 107 years old institute has
ancient India were derived from the natural materials like terracotta, chalk, red ochre and yellow ochre mixed with been unparalleled. It now extends its reach in the field of arts! The group assignment to the class of 116 science
animal fat. The subjects included the figures of human beings and animals, hunting, family scenes, court life, deities enthusiast students was to represent a scientific concept by an Indian folk art form. We are of course to remain
and stories from Budhhist Jataka. mindful of the fact that folk art contains its own specific technicalities and to claim that apprentices have attained
the venerable skill, acumen and finesse of folk artists would be absolutely incorrect. However, the attempt of the
students is laudable as it markedly pushes the disciplinary boundaries and presents ways of representing Science in
modes other than the conventional.

The art work they have produced can be aptly said to have added a new dimension to the repertoire of Indian folk
art. Though the government and NGOs have been using folk art as aids for reaching out to the masses to proliferate
scientific aptitude, especially in the health and hygiene campaigns, nevertheless these art works by the students
stands unrivaled in many respects. These works are produced by practioners of Science and hence provides nuanced
insiders perspective on complex scientific concepts and being non-utilitarian, these works are solely to celebrate the
aesthetics of Science.
References

Dorson, M Richard (1972). Folklore and Folklife. Chicago. University of Chicago Press.
Dundes, Alan (1980). Interpreting Folklore. Bloomington. Indiana University.
Edelman, Gerald M. (2006). Forms of Knowledge: The Divorce between Science and the Humanities & Repairing
the Rift in Second Nature: Brain Science and Human Knowledge. New Haven and London. Yale University Press.
Engler, Gideon (1990). Aesthetics in Science and in Arts. British Journal of Aesthetics, Volume 30 No. 1. Pp 24.
Gadagkar, R. (2006). The Evolution of a Biologist in an Interdisciplinary Environment in: 25 Jahre
Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin 1981-2006, (Eds.) Grimm,D. and Meyer-Kalkus,R., Berlin, Academie Verlag.
Garimella, Annapurna (ed).(2010). Vernacular in the Contemporary. New Delhi. Devi Arts Foundation.

Editor
Dr. Bitasta Das
Instructor-Humanities
Undergraduate Programme
Centre for Contemporary Studies
Indian Institute of Science
Bangalore

Photographers
Anuva Aishwarya-UG-IISc 2013
Anshuman Swain-UG-IISc 2013

Design
Ramya Padbidri
Artists DEEPAK V MOGILI RATAN VENKATESH SHAYAN BANERJEE
DEEPINDER SINGH NAREN VOHRA SHIKHAR SAXENA
UG-IISc 2012 DIPTAPARNA BISWAS NARTU MOHAN SAI KIRAN KUMAR YADAV SHINDE SHALAKA VILAS
ABHIJEET ANAND GAGANDEEP SINGH NEETHU K VARGHESE SHINJINI BISWAS
ABHINAV KUMAR MAURYA GANAPATI RABHA NIDHIN KURIAN KALARICKAL SIDDHARTH KANKARIA
ABHINAY SINGH GANDI MOUNIKA OJESH KOUL SOUMYO BISWAS
ABHISHEK BALAKRISHNA GEORGE YUMNAM P SHUBHAM PARASHAR SREYAS MOHAN
ABHISHEK KUMAR GHULE SIDDHARTH SAMBHAJI PATIL PRITISH LAXMIKANT SUBHAJIT DASGUPTA
ABINASH KUMAR HARSHA GURNANI PAVAN ASHOK MALAGIMANI SUBHENDU PANDIT
ADARSH SINGH HARSHIT DUBEY PRANAV KANTROO SUHAS M
AJAY JOSEPH ISMATH SADHIR PRANAVA KEERTHI S TAMOGHNA BARIK
AKASH YADAV JASPAL SINGH PRASANJIT SAMADDAR TANMOY PAL
AMAL ROY JITENDRA KUMAR PRIYALAXITA CHANDA TAPAN GOEL
AMLAN DAS K. ASWIN LAKSHMI NARAYANAN RAGHAVA NIKHIL SIDDHARTH UTKARSH VIJAY
ANAMAY CHATURVEDI K. SILVA PRASAD RAHUL SINGH VADDI MEHER
ANANTHESH S KAIVALYA M RAJ GAUTAM VARSHITHA.K.S.
ANANYA AISHWARYA KARANAM ARAVIND RAO REKHA NAWAL JYOTI VARUN PRASAD
ANKIT KUMAR JAISWAL KARRI RAGHUNATH RHINE SAMAJDAR VIKAS JANGID
ANKUSH SOOD KARTIK AKHOON RICHA NAJA JAIN VIVEK KUMAR GUPTA
ARGHYADIP MUKHERJEE KAUSHIK BORAH ROHIT CHATTERJEE VRUJEN RAKESH ANDHARE
ARKA PAL KISHALAY DE ROSHAN XAVIER NORMAN
ARNAB DATTA KOLHATKAR SAMPADA CHANDRASHEKHAR S HAMILTON SAMRAJ
ARVENTH V KSHITIJ YADAV SABAREESH R
ARVIND M. PRABHURAM SAHANA D RAO
ATISHAYA KUMAR SAKSHAM MAJJI SHANMUKH NAIDU SAIBAL DE
ATREYA DEY MALLA SAI PRATHYUSHA SAMPRITA NANDI
BASIL T MALLAVARAPU MONIKA SANDIP SINHA
BHAVNA KANDRA MANISH KUMAR DHAKER SAURABH ANAND
BIPLABENDU DAS MATHEW GEORGE SAYAK GHOSH
BUKKE LOKESH NAIK MATTA UMA MAHESWARA REDDY SAYYAD IRFAN ALI
CHANCHAL SONI MAYUKH NATH SEETHAMRAJU MUKUND
DEBADITYA CHATTERJEE MEDHA SHEKHAR SHAH RAVI KAUSHIKBHAI
DEBATOSH DAS MILIND HEGDE SHASHANK H R