Sunithi

My aunt Sunithi Narayanan spent much of her adult life showing Tamil Nadu to visitors to India... Hundreds have had the good fortune to have her take them to Mahabalipuram, or Thanjavur, or Madurai. Or for that matter, anywhere in the South of India, and had her share with them her considerable knowledge generously, and with warmth.

And with what vivacity! Her striking looks and her animated style would bring each monument alive, make each viewing an experience to live through...

Stephen Huyler, an art historian, cultural anthropologist, and photographer has captured some of this quality of hers in a chapter of his new book Daughters of India: Art and Identity, published recently by Mapin, Ahmedabad. Stephen "has spent three-and-a-half decades documenting Indian art as it relates to ritual and society. As a cultural anthropologist conducting field research across the length and breadth of India, Huyler has been a guest in innumerable Indian homes. His photographs have appeared in many exhibitions, including those he has curated at major museums internationally. India's Daughters is his fifth published book."


The book interweaves the stories of twenty women with photographs of high quality- documenting the ordinary and the everyday, but capturing the essence of the life. And he has chosen his subjects well- they are diverse and representative, and in being otherwise unremarkable- no movie stars, no politicians- they remind one of just how special each individual is... And how remarkable!

"Daughters of India profiles twenty women from diverse communities ranging from the rice paddies of far Southern India to the plantations of the Himalayas and from the dry western deserts to the verdant east coast. Differing in age, economics, social status, privilege, treatment and opportunity, they represent every woman. In their battles against adversity, their own words express their innate strength. All of these women are connected by a single thread: creative expression. Indian women are often completely unconscious of their artistry and it is only recently that they have drawn any attention. In these chapters, artistry is combined with individual women's words and stories to portray the empowerment of Indian women.

Daughters of India is about change in the face of almost impossible odds, personal initiative that carves out a new identity and implacable insistence on the recognition of human rights."

In hardcover, 264 pages, oversize. Rs 2500. ISBN: 9788189995010

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