Title: 10 Indian Art Mysteries THAT HAVE NEVER BEEN SOLVED
Author: Mamta Nainy (an award winning children’s writer with 30 books to her credit and numerous translation works from English to Hindi)
Publisher: Duckbill (Penguin Random House India)
Age: 10 years+
The book is an eye opener for all of us who are admirers of history and art, yet ignorant about the mysteries behind them. The most interesting part is that the author has chosen 10 art mysteries, that have never been solved.
Considering we are caught in the mobile frenzy, kids included, and short on time and imagination, this book comes as a perfect antidote.
Sit back, relax, and have an armchair ride to the 1800s when the British discovered by sheer accident and adventure, the now world famous Ajanta Caves, with fascinating narrative paintings, depicting Buddha’s previous births in human and animal form.
Or the Bhimbekta Caves which remained undiscovered, until an archaeology expert jumped off a train on a journey from Bhopal to Itarsi. His trained eye had spotted a great prehistoric art gallery, from a moving train window. Rock and cave art creations from the Stone Age?
It’s believed the works here are 20 times older than Harappa and the Pyramids of Giza.
In this easy to read and simple to understand book (art can be a daunting, complex subject), the author also highlights the malaise in our system. We have failed to safeguard our history and allowed it to be stolen and exported. Now there is a determined movement wherein the Government and independent historians are tracing Indian artefacts in possession of museums overseas. The good news is many of the valuable icons are back in our safe custody. Most of the smuggling and selling is attributed to Subhash Kapoor, now under arrest.
There is a delightful story highlighting our renowned art historian Dr B N Goswamy who travels to Haridwar to trace the origins of the famous pahari painter, Manaku of Guler.
Flipping the pages is a revelation, as the book makes for fascinating reading on:
– How our masons were true artists, and built a temple carved out of a single mammoth rock, top down! Yes, top down, intricately carved, finished in record time and representing Mount Kailash, the Himalayan abode of Lord Shiva.
– How colours were created out of flowers, leaves, barks, roots, rocks and minerals.
– A glorious glowing yellow shade was a hot export from Bihar to England. It was exported as small, compact balls, and even Vincent Van Gogh used it extensively (rumours were it was made from cow urine).
– How there is so much of Mughal Art, and yet very few female artists. As the author puts it,
A thick veil of anonymity surrounds most of the women artists of that period.
-What did the Buddha look like? As the author explains,
“The Buddha is one of the best known figures in history… but he is also the least known.”
– How Pithora Art is the original creative GPS for merchants and traders and many more such pigments of stories
Where the book departs from convention marks the high point for me. Every story ends with a reader reward involvement, titled Be An Arty Pants! That’s the challenge for the young reader to create something imaginative. For example unravel many a mystery by rolling up your sleeves, you too can create natural colours using turmeric powder combinations. Or this one below:
If you want your children to unlock their imagination, this is the perfect read. Adults be warned: you may end up lapping up this book well before your child does.
Other books in this series (the 10s):
10 Indian Champions Who Are Fighting to Save the Planet by Bijal Vachharajani
10 Indian Women Who Were the First to Do What They Did by Shruthi Rao
10 Indian Animals You May Never Again See in the Wild by Ranjit Lal
10 Indian Monarchs Whose Amazing Stories You May Not Know by Devika Rangachari
10 Indian Heroes Who Help People Live With Dignity by Sonak Ghoshal
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