Tribute to tribes

City artist’s works showcase plight of Naxals in Jharkhand, highlight musical instruments that are facing extinction.

art and culture Updated: Jul 14, 2011 16:24 IST
Shweta Mehta
Shweta Mehta
Hindustan Times

Rekha Rana’s latest exhibition can be seen as an attempt to trace her roots. A Mumbai resident, Rana hails from Jharkhand and has lived at several locations across the state. She confesses that her head’s bursting with memories of growing up amidst people tribes like Santhal, Thuiyan, Paoya, Munda and others.

Now, in a bid to raise awareness, she’s hosting an exhibit of works dedicated to her homeland — to the people from various Naxal tribes, their culture and deplorable living conditions. “The tribals have a rich culture and tradition, but in the name of development, their lives are changing a lot. Ancient culture speaks its own language, it’s very important to keep it alive,” she muses. “I want the urban as well as common people to take notice. In metros, everyone has an extravagant lifestyle, so they don’t have much respect for original and authentic things.”


Rana’s exhibit has 26 paintings and one installation. The latter, titled Reality is made of wood and metal. It shows the lives and sufferings of the Naxal tribes through a life-sized bed of thorns. Some of the paintings focus solely on musical instruments from the region, which are now headed towards extinction. Rana, who has studied about them, hopes she can highlight the need to hold on to such representatives of Jharkhand’s culture.

She explains, “Some of these instruments speak their own language. The sarangi used commercially is a developed version, whereas the tribals still use the antique version. This cultural legacy must be carried on.”

For her people, Rana has only one wish. “We must respect their lives and traditions,” she insists. “The government must take the initiative to develop their lifestyle and culture. Jharkhand supplies 40 per cent of the mineral ores in the country, so these people deserve due importance and comfortable lives.”

First Published: Jul 14, 2011 11:30 IST