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Sundaribai
curatorial

Sundaribai lives and works in Sirkotanga, a village in the Sarguja district of the central Indian state of Chattisgarh. She belongs to the Rajwar community, a people who were historically the primary cultivators in the region. The entire ritual calendar of the Rajwars, therefore, revolved around the agricultural cycle. At the end of the winter harvest, the Rajwars celebrate the festival known as Chherta. All Rajwar houses are repaired and plastered with clay and cowdung. The walls, niches, screens, shelves, and storage jars in the house are also elaborately adorned with paintings and clay relief work.

Having learnt the art of clay relief work from her mother, Sundaribai went on to innovate with the tradition once she got married and moved to her husband's village. To keep her company in her new home she fashioned all manner of birds, beasts and animals, figures and dolls. She was 'discovered' by researchers from the Bharat Bhavan in Bhopal who travelled to Sarguja in search of indigenous artists. Since then, Sundaribai has exhibited in museums and galleries India and abroad and taught many younger women to sculpt and paint in the Rajwar style. In keeping with her expanding horizons, her visual vocabulary too has grown - she has introduced new elements like trains, scenes from festivals and her personal life, as well as of iconic sights such as the Eiffel Tower encountered during her travels.

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