Sunday, 21 September 2014

"Art, Architecture, Culture And History"

The Silk Road: Trade, Caravan Serais, Cultural Exchanges and Power Games by Mansura Haidar from Aryan Books International.

From antiquity to the present day, Central Asia has all along been an important region for India—politically, strategically, culturally and commercially. The region played an important role sometimes serving as a rendezvous or extension of India’s spiritual acquisitions, and sometimes playing as a buffer state or a ground for Great Game or Neo-Great Game affecting India’s political interests in a big way. The Silk Road not only developed and enhanced trade and commerce between the East and the West, but was also a significant factor in facilitating cultural and social interaction across continents.

Given the historic and cultural importance of this trans-continental route, the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA), along with the Eurasia Division, Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India had organised an International Seminar on “Cities, Roads and Caravansarais— An Emblem of Relations through the Ages” which was held during 8-12 January 2008. This volume contains the proceedings of the seminar. ‘Looking back’ is an age-old maxim for ‘going ahead’—as it is the past which often sustains and inspires the future.

The cultural encounters at the Silk Road, imparting a continued impetus to the growth and development of ‘Dialogue between Civilizations’—ideally remain to be in the category of cross-fertilization and not negotiations. Whether by wars or through cultural linkages and brisk exchanges and interactions, India and its surrounding regions had richly contributed to the mosaic of regional and global cultures. It is here that the real significance of this research work lies.

In our Management Studies section, Rs. 2500, in hardback, xxvi+330 pages, ISBN : 9788173055287

Mausam: Maritime Cultural Landscapes Across the Indian Ocean by Himanshu Prabha Ray from Aryan Books International.

‘Mausam’ or Arabic ‘Mawsim’ refers to the season when ships could sail safely in the Indian Ocean and these seasonal monsoon winds underwrote both a shared culture in the past, as also the continued survival of maritime regions into the present. ‘Maritime cultural landscape’ was used by Olof Hasslof, the Swedish maritime ethnologist in the 1950s to indicate an understanding of the use of the sea by humans and included attendant coastal structures and cultural identifiers.

The papers in this book examine the development of coastal settlements and architectural remains from the third millennium bce Bronze Age to almost the present across a large part of the Indian Ocean extending from Arabia to Vietnam. A second objective of the book is to relate this understanding of the past with that of the present and to highlight the extent to which indicators of historical cultural networks provide building blocks for contemporary societies, as they work towards universal values and trans-border groupings—both of which underwrite UNESCO’s 1972 World Heritage Convention.

The Convention encourages the identification, protection and preservation of cultural and natural heritage around the world considered to be of outstanding value to humanity, thereby focussing on the universal, rather than the local or regional. The book will appeal to readers of maritime history, as well as those involved in heritage studies.

In our Art and Architecture section, Rs. 1495, in hardback, xiv+94 pages, ISBN : 9788173055249

The Dussehra of Kulu: History and Analysis of a Cultural Phenomenon by Karuna Goswamy from Aryan Books International.

In many ways, the Dussehra of Kulu has few parallels, not only as a religious ‘festival’ or a colourful annual ‘fair’, but also as a cultural phenomenon. For more than three hundred and fifty years, the festival, participated in by hundreds of thousands of visitors or ‘pilgrims’ from all over the hills, and outside, has gone on being held, year after year. The history of it alone is absorbing in the extreme; what is even more remarkable is the manner in which it has kept changing but without losing its core.

Year after year ‘deotas’ keep coming to Kulu, carried on their shoulders by devoted followers, walking scores of miles across hilly terrains; year after year Rama as ‘Raghunathji’ leaves his temple-home and camps in the chaugan of Kulu to receive their homage; year after year exchanges of the utmost courtesy keep taking place between gods and goddesses cast in different moulds, classical or folk.

All this while, everything is bathed in the colours of marigold, and music fills the air. The present volume, the first of its kind, explores this fascinating territory and invites the reader to take the same journey. There is not only history in these pages, but also understanding: a measure of delight and spiritual upliftment.

In our Culture section, Rs. 3600, in hardback, xviii+314 pages, ISBN : 9788173055232

Indian World Heritage Sites in Context by Himanshu Prabha Ray And Manoj Kumar from Aryan Books International.

This book on World Heritage sites in India has two objectives: one, to highlight the archaeological context and cultural landscapes relating to monuments inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage list; and second, to draw attention to urban pressures that impact the conservation and preservation of many of these sites and the need for comprehensive management strategies to ensure their continued survival. While six are natural properties, the Archaeological Survey of India has twenty of the twenty-four World Heritage cultural sites in India under its administrative control.

These may be categorized into: caves, churches and convents, forts, monastic complexes, mosques, palaces, rock-shelters, temples, and tombs. This list, by and large, focuses on either single monument or groups of monuments, bereft of cultural moorings. It is important that archaeological and historical inputs regarding the wider cultural milieu of World Heritage sites be introduced through site management plans, interpretation centres and heritage bye-laws to aid in holistic appreciation of the ‘monument’ or ‘group of monuments’.

Clearly, there is an urgent need for change in our understanding and appreciation of not only World Heritage sites, but also policies to ensure their preservation. It is this need for change that the papers by archaeologists, historians and heritage specialists in this edited book articulate and discuss.

In our Art and Architecture section, Rs. 1950, in hardback, xvi+136 pages, ISBN : 9788173055218

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