Making Faces Self and Image Creation in a Himalayan Valley


Author: Alka Hingorani
Publisher: Niyogi Books in association with University of Hawai ‘i
(Pp 150, ISBN 978-93-83098-01-9, Rs 1,250)

Making Faces is well written, abundantly illustrated and offers an inventive and suggestive account of the production and life of ritual images in the Indian Himalayas. It helps in understanding of traditional art, craft, and in an ethnographically neglected region.

With its close-up and theoretically sophisticated treatment of Indian artisans at work, this stimulating book raises important issues concerning the making of art in a religious setting. The author includes wonderful vignettes, such as a description of how to make a Kullu royal umbrella, and an artist’s charming story of the Sun and the Divine Architect.

The book tells the story of these God-makers, the Gods they make, and the communities that participate in the creative process and its accompanying rituals. The book is divided in five chapters followed by an elaborate epilogue.

Chapter one describes the ritual of Kullu Dassehra which the author believes “continues to be a carnival of shared faith and fealty. While, chapter two elaborates the ideas and intents that animate these objects. It discusses categorization on the basis of style, material and ritual biographies of the objects for an understanding of their meaning. Chapter three grounds the analyses of objects in an elaboration of the processes of making. While, chapter four deals with articulations and aspects of the aesthetic field within which the reception occurs. It also explains interaction between artisan and audience. The final chapter is about the artisan, his role in society, his engagement with his context.

The book will be welcomed by scholars and students of anthropology, material culture, religion, art history, and South Asian studies.

–GS Jolly

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