Reads

Dig a little deeper into India’s art and heritage, uncover lesser-known stories and expert insight on everything from the popular to the esoteric.

Parallel Histories: Personal Photos as a Political Statement

Powerful pieces of imagery from personal albums are setting down in history what is otherwise undocumented and therefore unacknowledged, acting as the nuanced subtext that is drastically missing from our public rhetoric. We talk to the curators of these intimate archives

Now reading: The stories every picture tells

An initiation into the Sarmaya team involves the confrontation of and acclimating to certain books from our library. New ‘uns are told this is necessary reading meant to familiarise them with the genres of the collection. Each object inhabits a world that is resonant and multi-faceted and it’s impossible to know where to start. “Today… Read more »

In defence of Sita

The festival of light fast approaches, which of course reminds us of the legend behind the pomp and its heroine, Sita. Queen, Goddess, icon, Sita is a woman exemplar, revered for her beauty, grace and loyalty. But in modern times, Sita has had to pass frequent tests of feminist fire. If she is denigrated, it’s… Read more »

“Our books are like a room out of a museum”

Dulari Devi is an artist but she wasn’t always one. This is how the story begins in her autobiographical children’s book, Following My Paint Brush, published by Tara Books, an independent publishing house that brings art by Indian women, folk and indigenous artists to young readers. Coming from a community of fisherfolk in Bihar, Dulari… Read more »

Bhaktapur’s Mithila influence

This text and images below are reproduced with permission from the author Bhaskar Koirala and Nepali Times and it was originally published on the Nepali Times website     King Harisingh Deva of Simraongarh must have sat on his heavy-set chair while a pair of household staff was cross-legged on the black chlorite stone floor massaging… Read more »

Now reading: our favorite Tagore

Something is daunted when one attempts to remember the bequests of India’s early multi-hyphenate on his death anniversary. A good profile should be a seamless whole of the inner and outer life of the poet, Rabindranath Tagore had said, commenting on Tennyson’s biography by his son, which he admonished for being full of trivialities. But… Read more »

Staying in with Mario de Miranda

With his sharp wit and satirical yet sympathetic portrayals of daily life, Indian artist and cartoonist Mario de Miranda is the perfect companion during a lockdown. These illustrations  in our  StoryLTD auction, The World of Mario, would be sure to add some humour to your walls, and are as relevant as ever to the strange… Read more »

Who pulls the strings in Gulabo Sitabo?

I am desperately late to the Gulabo Sitabo Netflix watch party (or Amazon in this case), but in my defence it was catching virtual dust while sitting at the very top of my watchlist and this is just how movie screenings and time work now. How ironic it is that this film was released in… Read more »

The mythical origins of shadow puppets

Made in China, made in India, Japan, Thailand, Indonesia, or even Turkey, the tradition of shadow puppets has survived for a long time, the second century BC, some say. But as is also custom, scholars have many disagreements on its origins. Folklorist Stuart Blackburn suggests that this tradition, like Buddhism, travelled to the rest of… Read more »