Post-modern Ramayana scrapbook found

A veritable post-modern take on the Ramayana that lay inside the trunk of the Tagore family since the 1940s, is finally out of the closet.

Written and designed by Abanindranath Tagore (1871-1951), the master of the Bengal school of art, the work is being published as a book this week in Kolkata.

The publication is a facsimile reproduction of the 272-page scrap book that Tagore had originally done between 1934 and 1942.

It is titled Khuddur Yatra (Journey of Khuddu) and is one of the versions of the Ramayana that Tagore wrote.

It draws on a mode of storytelling that is splintered into multiple voices, tonalities and modes, to form a collage of doodles, diagrams, fashion drawings, natural history drawings, ornamental and abstract designs, emblems, insignia, labels, wrappers, advertisements, fragments of texts and captions cut from newspapers and periodicals.

“I chanced upon the manuscript while looking for pictures for a different book on  Abanindranath that we were to publish. The search led me to the late Samitendranath Tagore’s (grandson of Abanindranath) home where his wife Shyamasree told me about this manuscript,” said Priyabrata Deb, publisher of Pratikshan, who is bringing out the book.

One thousand copies of the book are being published.


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