Sonabai-Isolated for 15 Years turned into India’s greatest art Treasure

This post was written by Valerie on September 21, 2012
Posted Under: Grandma Quotes

Sonabai-India's National Treasure

When Sonabai was just a young girl in India she was married off to an older man who virtually used her as his families servant who abused and mistreated her. For several years of that marriage she was kept inside the family compound and eventually she was taken by her husband to a very isolated area where a house was built and she was left alone for many years to fend for herself and her child. Her husband would make visits now and then.

How she kept her sanity is an amazing story of a woman with no formal training learned to use the soil from the land and the color from the plants to create amazing pieces of are that filled the walls of her home.

Sonabai's unique creations

As quoted from the following Mingei site: http://www.mingei.org/exhibitions/sonabai :

“Self-taught artist Sonabai Rajawar lived in enforced isolation for 15 years in a remote village in central India, creating her own joyous sculptural environment. Through the necessity of expressing her own vision in the face of tremendous adversity, Sonabai developed her innovative art form, which she later taught to other artists. Today in the remote rural villages of her central Indian state, many other artists practice Sonabai’s art in painted clay.”

One lonely day Sonabai spotted a man up on the hill sitting under a tree. She walked up to the man and brought him water and food. She thought he was a prophet and asked him if she would ever be allowed to see the world. He told her not to worry the world will soon be coming to see her.

Not long after a group came to her home with her husband and it was then they marveled at her amazing creations..lattice worked walls with people playing instruments, women carrying straw and lots of animals.

The Mingei Museum of San Diego was responsible for finding her and bringing her to their museum to create a permanent exhibit along with the help of her son and daughter-in-law.

If you get the chance order. “Sonabai Another Way of Seeing” by author Stephen P. Huyler. It is a remarkable read and full of pictures of her art.

She was recognized by the Indian government as a National Treasure. And although she no longer is alive her works continue through her teaching and her children.

I gave this story and card to may ailing son-in-law’s grand father and was told it was her story that helped him recover. May her life inspire you as much as it has ours.

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