By Helle Bundgaard
Painting Stories weaves a tapestry of stories portraying the lives of Indian craft makers. Religion, family, chance, ambition, and passion shape the lives of the painters. For them, painting is more than a livelihood or an aesthetic expression—it is a way of life.
Painting Stories explores the accomplishments, struggles, and livelihoods of traditional artisans in Raghurajpur, a village known for its patta chitra painters. In this collection, Helle Bundgaard weaves thirty years of observations and experiences into a tapestry of stories, which together present a poignant image of the lives of Indian craft makers and their personal connections to the art that they create.
The painters’ stories are situated in a rich cultural environment and steeped in social relations. For them, painting is more than a livelihood or an aesthetic expression – it is a way of life.
Painting Stories is a window into a part of our world rarely seen, reminding us of both our rich diversity and our shared humanity. Written with the painters, students, and laypersons in mind, the book includes a discussion of ethnographic storytelling and resources for ethnographic writing, as well as color photographs that bring the stories to life.
MEET THE PAINTERS
Read more about the patachitra painters from Painting Stories.
A rare gem – the stories are accessible and appealing to a diverse readership, ranging from anthropologists and South Asia specialists to scholars of traditional art and everyday readers. Concerning the interests of folklorists, Painting Stories transcends mere ingenuity, as it delves deeply into the bedrock of our discipline, namely the exploration of material culture and the intricate customs, traditions, and beliefs that envelop it.
With distinctive verve, empathy, and humor, Painting Stories portrays the changing lives of traditional Indian painters – and their Danish ethnographer – across thirty years. Helle Bundgaard beautifully illustrates the power of stories to cultivate and celebrate caring connections, and to grant subtle ethnographic insights.
Painting Stories is a beautifully written book, rich in its depictions of everyday life among painters and crafters in an Indian village, conveyed through an innovative approach to narrative ethnography. Bundgaard’s long-term engagement with the village informs her evocative portraits of scenes, events, and people for whom creativity is at the center of their lives."