The Artist in Indian Society: Patrons and Performers in Rajasthan

Author: 
Erdman, Joan Landy
Year: 
1980

     In this study, "the particular localized aspects of the sangit tradition in Rajasthan are described in terms of (1) the geographic and historical content, (2) the professional representatives and their social organization, and (3) three typical performances . . . . In Part One, the history and geography of Jaipur and Rajasthan are described as understood and written about by the people of this place." Then the "social organization of sangit performance in Jaipur is considered in terms of the major institutions which dominate the field of cultural performance before and after independence: the Gunijankhana (Department of Virtuosos) of Jaipur State and the Rajasthan Tarun Kalakar Parishad, All-India Radio, and Sangeet Sansthan. . . . The various functions of contemporary Jaipur institutions, including All-India Radio, Sangeet Sansthan, and Shruti Mandal, with respect to programming, training, and performances are described, and sketches of an organizing secretary, a patron of quality, a critic, and a modern Rajput supported of Rajasthan's sangit tradition are provided in order to suggest the shift from Jaipur as a residential and performance center for artists to Jaipur as a center for the support and organization of cultural quality and Rajasthani traditions."
     The discussion of recreation and subtle performances in Part Three provides examples of three types of continuity and succession in the sangit tradition: the idealization of the princely past, the transformation of the royal religious ceremonies into tourist and local parades, and the movement towards creating for Rajasthan an inclusive regional cultural tradition which combines the royal past and the on-going contemporary transitions into a moving future, or regionalism. The first type is illustrated in the story of Kudau's Pakhawaj and Gulla's Dance, translated from the Hindi original, and analyzed from the perspective of its contribution to the contemporary presence of sangit's romantic and nostalgic tradition, that of the princely patronage, artistic excellence, and ultimate sacrifice of the imperfect to the divine perfection. . . . The second type of continuity and succession is illustrated in a description of the jhanki (procession) of Gangaur, which is celebrated annually in Jaipur and other parts of Rajasthan. Participants are especially the young women, who ask for the long life of their husband, or a husband (if still unmarried) who will outlive them. . . . The third type of continuity and succession, which I have designated the Subtle Tradition . . . is exemplified in a multi-media program combining slides and taped dubbed narration with intermittent folkdances accompanied by live music. Entitled Dharti Dhoron Ri (Land of Shifting Sands), this production is presented in Rajasthan's districts as well as in Jaipur. A translation of its text, a description of its presentation situations, and analysis of its emotional, energetical, and logical components in interpretation are the conclusion of this part which focuses on the performances themselves as an entry into Rajasthan's culture and its contemporary presentations and regionalism. This part ends with a statement about art as communication, discussing the development of patronage and audiences for contemporary arts in Rajasthan, and subtle combination which a modern kalakar (a 'maker' or 'doer' of artworks) must create in order to communicate widely, and in order to join the generations of folk tradition with the timeless qualities of India's cultural ideals. The dissertation concludes with an epilogue considering the timely and timeless aspects of Indian artworks and artists.

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