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Saturday, May 17, 2008

Life Imitates Art

In rural households across Karnataka our team of researchers found innumerable game boards tucked away in attics, lofts and lying amidst rarely used utensils. When we generally enquired if any person knows how to play, it always turned out that an elderly woman in the household had played the game long ago as an young bride and later on the boards sat abandoned in the dusty corners of the house.



In the monsoon of 2007 we (Raghu, Dr. Dileep and myself) had been to Biligiri Rangana Betta (BR Hills) which is a couple of hours drive from Mysore. While returning we stopped enroute at a picturesque village Ummattur in Chamarajanagar district. What caught our attention was the beautifully carved and colourfully painted wooden pillars and doors of traditional houses.



Huge houses with a frontage of several feet which once upon a time might have housed very large joint agrarian families now had been partitioned several times and each dwelling had a frontage reduced to ten or twelve feet and different colours of their exterior paints indicated the boundaries with shared walls.



Walking into the village square we stood in front of the Urukaatheshwari Devi temple trying to locate game boards on the floor of that ancient structure. To our dismay, walls and floor had recently been fixed with glistening ceramic tiles; even the robust granite pillars were not spared. There was no chance of finding a game board there because if there were any they now lay buried under ceramic tiles.



Disappointed, as we went around the temple a scene caught our attention. It was an octagenarian lady Chemmaramma teaching three young girls a game of Aligulimane (mancala). Raghu wasted no time to capture the scene on his camera.


It was almost a week later, when we were reviewing the photographs, that Dr. Dileep remarked the similarity of this snap with the painting which G.L.N. Simha had painted a few months earlier.



Voila! It was the case of life imitating art.


Raghu has written following Kannada rhyme for the above painting.You can also see it in his blog here.


ಬೇಸಿಗೆಯ ಮಜಾ


ಇದೋ ಬಂತು ಬೇಸಿಗೆ

ರಜವಾಯಿತು ಶಾಲೆಗೆ

ಸಖತ್ ಮಜಾ ನನಗೆ

ಹೊರಟೆ ಅಜ್ಜಿ ಮನೆಗೆ

ಸಿಕ್ಕಿತು ಕವಡೆ, ಅಳಿಗುಳಿ ಆಟಿಗೆ

ಸೀಟಿದೆ ಪತ್ತಾ, ಕರುಗಳ ಬಗೆಬಗೆ

ಖಾಲಿಮನೆ ಪಿಗ್ಗಿಗಳು ಅಜ್ಜಿಗೆ

ನಕ್ಕಿದೆ ಮರಳಿ ಆಕೆಯ ಮಡಿಲಿಗೆ


An elderly lady is seen this picture teaching her grand daughter nuances of the game at the game parlour during Kreedaa Kaushalya exhibition.

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