Friday, November 03, 2006

Family portrait

Here is a photo of a painting .I painted it some time ago.Imagine finding an old box in your attic belonging to a forefather opening it and finding a faded and torn ,ready to crumble family photo and you carefully straighten it and place it on a brown paper and try to restore it as best as you can.Imagined?So this is that :-). It portrays a young landlord of 'Gods own country' and his family. The Department of Tourism gave this catchphrase to its advertisements on Kerala tourism when my husband was the head of the depatrment.Perhaps it was meant to remind the viewers also that this land of Kerala was claimed by 'the mighty axe wielding brahmin warrior Parasurama' an incarnation of Vishnu ,from Varuna -the sea god.So Gods own land -lush and green and beautiful. The dress of Malayalee was 'a mundu' -a piece of white cotton cloth wraped around the waist and another cloth narrower in width thrown over the shoulders called 'angavastram'.No shirt for the malayali man--how ever high or low he was in society. The king and pauper wore mundu and an angavastram -same white dress. Infact the lower caste had no right to cover the upper part of his body infront of the upper caste men or women.As for the hindu woman,she wore a mundu the same way as her men and threw a piece of cloth over her bossom .No bodice or blouse.'Free and proud ;-).This was the case even as recently as a little more than half a century ago.In fact wearing a blouse was considered debasing--loosing caste and shameful, just a century ago.Nair women had no need for 'bra burning and women's rights movements'.So this is the photo from those days.Days when the nairs followed the matrilinear system .
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