ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Story of an Ethnography

The Craft and Lifeworld of Artist and Art in Society

Perspectives on Work, Home, and Identity from Artisans in Telangana: Conversations Around Craft by Chandan Bose, Cham: Palgrave Macmillan, 2019; pp 311, ¤93.59.

This is an ethnography based on conversations with artists/artisans and craftspersons in Telangana. As a sociologist who is preoccupied by form and method, it is the ethnographic rigour and commitment that drew me to this work, much more than the art itself. Conversations, life history and storytelling are at the heart of this work. The book
is rich in detail and complemented by colourful photographs of the artwork as well. It is indeed a thick description of the life and work of the Danalakota household of Cheriyal in Telangana. The work is based on the life experiences of different family members from two generations as well as narratives of their ancestors—both women and men. Their physical and social mobi­lity is captured beautifully without romanticising the challenges faced by the family. The artist Danalakota Vaikun­tam Naqqash, who is the protagonist of this work, is quite conscious of the impor­tance of documentation of his craft, and showing his confidence in the ethnographer and the eventual materiality of the uses of research:

Thanks to the government, and people like Kirtana Thangavelu that knowledge about this art is spreading … Kirtana did research on story-telling and the scrolls. Reading that, you have come here. You will tell people and they will come to know about this. This is but publicity for the craft. (p 249)

Bose is able to bring out the relationship between the artist and their work, as well as the bottom-up relationship between the ethnographer and the artist played out amidst the nuanced gender/class and familial/social, econo­mic/historical dynamics of the lifeworld.

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Updated On : 18th Feb, 2021

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