Bhuri Bai Bhil’s Dotted Lines – a visual autobiography of an artist with Debjani Mukherjee celebrates Bhil Pithora art.

Bhuri Bai Bhil’s Dotted Lines – a visual autobiography of an artist with Debjani Mukherjee celebrates Bhil Pithora art.

This is the tale of Bhuri, a girl from the village of Jhabua in Madhya Pradesh. Dotted Lines – a visual autobiography of an artist (published by Katha Books) narrates the simple life of a village girl as she grows into a young woman. Each page is filled with wonderful illustrations made by Bhuri. They bring alive the beauty intrinsic to the little scenes of life in a village. It also highlights the superstitions and beliefs that the villagers live with, as well as customs and traditions they harbour. The book is apt for readers aged 5 right up to 12 years.

Here is a book that tells the tale of empowerment as much as it illustrates the unique cultures and artistic traditions that are a part of our diverse nation.

Bhuri moves to the city to work as a daily wage labourer. However, destiny has other plans for her. Thanks to a sensitive curator, she gets an opportunity to paint traditional Bhil Pithora art on paper. Well, she is used to painting on the walls in the village. Will the art on paper be good enough? By transferring her skills on paper, she is in a sense leaving behind ‘tradition’ and yet, continuing that tradition! Would she succeed in this task? How does painting free her and empower her in ways she had never imagined? 

This narrative may sound complex for a young child. But then, that is the beauty of Katha Books. Such a nuanced story is made so accessible to a young child, who will be able to enjoy it as a picture book. In the process of reading the book the child also learns about the Bhil Pithora art tradition and painting in the Bhil way, complete with the dots inspired by the maize corm grown in the area. 

 In addition to that, there is a new window that opens up, illustrating nuggets from the lives of people in Indian villages, the tribals that strive so hard to protect their culture, the changes in their lives- both for the better and for the worse, and how modernity can take away so much and yet give a lot. 

This is a true story that reveals how art can be a saviour, when we attempt to save it! Here is a book that tells the tale of empowerment as much as it illustrates the unique cultures and artistic traditions that are a part of our diverse nation.

Dhanishta Shah
 

Dhanishta Shah

Dhanishta is a freelance writer, going strong on a quest to explore a variety of topics and avenues for generating purposeful content. A self-confessed bibliophile, she is the Founder of Bookedforlife.