Madhubani – Forest of Honey: Living Traditions of Folk Paintings of India

Article by Lopamudra:

“intings, sometimes stated as Madhubani, belong to the genre of folk paintings of India. It originated in the region of Mithila from where they also derive their name. Since it is the geographical derivation and medium of the artwork that unites this genre and kind, this classification or nomenclature is fitting.”

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Mini Documentary on The Last Mughal Zafar narrated by William Dalrymple

imageMirza Abu Zafar Sirajuddin Muhammad Bahadur Shah was the last Mughal emperor. He succeeded his father, Akbar II, on his death in 1837. Under nom de plume Zafar, which means victory, he was a prolific Urdu poet, writing many ghazals. His authority was limited to the city of Delhi only.

Following his involvement in the Indian Rebellion of 1857, the British exiled him to Burma, which was British-owned at the time. The above photograph shows him after his trials and before being shipped off to Rangoon.

This 8 minute video

Zafar the Last Mughal

is a very potted history of his life and is narrated by writer William Dalrymple, the author of the fantastic and highly recommended books ‘The Last Mughal’ and ‘White Mughals’, among many other beautifully written works on India’s history, culture and current affairs.

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Steampunk Marvel Crossovers (X-men)

Absolutely wonderful Steampunk X-Men crossover, from the Adventures With Mala blog!

Adventures With Mala

X-men is one of my all time favorite comics so I very excited to share this feature with you.  I love to seeing collaborative projects too!  Make sure to check out all the talented people involved in this amazing project.   I really can’t say enough about these detail in each of these costumes. If you know X-men you will appreciate how the design is balanced with the character design and the originality of each piece. I have been debating about how to write up this feature but seriously there is way too much to say!  Instead of me saying how epic these are I hope you can find the elements in each piece that you appreciate for your own reasons.  – Mala

The costumes were made by Maise Designs Seamstress and designed by Art of Jen Broomall.
Photos by Grant Brummett

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In order left to right:
Rogue: Itty Bitty…

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Happy 150th Birthday, Anandibai Joshi! 

Happy 150th Birthday, Anandibai Joshi! Born on this day in Kalyan near Mumbai, she was the first Indian woman to get a Western medicine degree in 1886.

  


She was born in 1865 in an extremely orthodox Brahmin family in Maharashtra. As a nine year old girl she was married off to a widower who was almost thrice her age. However, he appears to have been a more forward thinking fellow than his peers at this time (and aside from the deeply problematic custom of child bridehood): Gopalrao Joshi was a postal clerk. When his wife at age fourteen expressed she wanted to study medicine he supported her. It seems her drive to do so came after their first child died, ten days after birth, because proper medical resources were not available.

This was a time when women’s education wasn’t thought of or if it was, sneered at. Gopalrao seems to have been an exception to the rule: he married Anandi specifically on the condition that his wife be educated, whether her family had traditional misgivings or not.

She sadly died at the very young age of twenty-one, yet she opened the gates for many young women in India who wanted to move beyond solely dedicating their lives to a domestic status.

  

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Filed under Diversity, History, India, MultiCulturalism in Steampunk, MultiCuturalism, Victorian PoC, Victoriana, Woman, Women's History

How to Punk Your Steam: Make it Multicultural

Excellent For Whom the Gear Turns article on Multiculturalism in Steampunk.

For Whom the Gear Turns

For some people, Steampunk isn’t Steampunk unless there is some connection to jolly ol’ England, but I find this view to be unreasonably limiting. The period surrounding the Industrial Revolution in England saw unprecedented opportunities for travel and exploration, and the people of Western Europe became fascinated with (sometimes fictionalized) accounts of these journeys. These travelogues were definitely influenced by the culture of the observers and can tell us just as much, or in some cases more, about the writers than the places they actually visit.

For instance, Jules Verne’s contrasting characterizations of the phlegmatic Phileas Fogg (English), the emotional and adventurous Passepartout (French), and the short-tempered, violent Colonel Stamp Proctor (American) from Around the World in 80 Days, as well as the unflappable Hans (Icelandic) from Journey to the Center of the Earth, are all attributed to their country of origin. He and Arthur Conan Doyle also…

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The Tinku Diaries: New fiction up on Steampunk India, in collaboration with Clockwork Watch.

FICTION is now LIVE: The Tinku Diaries are up on the Steampunk India website: It was written exclusively for The Clockwork Watch: The Transmedia Experience’s event ‘Clocking Off Late’, imagineered and directed by Yomi Ayeni. The diaries build upon a character from the Clockwork Watch comics, Tinku Ranbir.
It was a great pleasure to collaborate and delve deeper into Tinku’s mind. – Suna Dasi

http://steampunkindia.com/the-tinku-diaries.html

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Introducing The SciFiFantasyNetwork.com

Finally the announcement can be made! Today sees the launch of a brand spanking new website: The Scififantasynetwork.com, a EuroCentric fandom site created by Tolkien artist and illustrator Jay Johnstone, in collaboration with YA SciFi writer Francesca Barbini.

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I am very pleased to be a contributing writer. Not only on all matters of Multiculturalism and Steampunk, as below

http://www.scififantasynetwork.com/steampunk-meaning-multiculturalism-and-making-merry-2/

but with sundry articles on general Geekdom topics, plus book, film and comic reviews. I will in all categories be focusing on Multicultural aspects and female artists working in the genre as much as possible.

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An in-depth interview with the creators of the Priya’s Shakti comic is coming soon.

The Network is also still looking for contributors so climb into your quills and contact them via the e-mail address below if you wish to be part of this new endeavour:

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Rites of Spring: Holi in India

Today all of India celebrates Holi. This year is marked by especially moving events as widows are taking to the streets to participate. In India, widows are complete outcasts from society, shunned by their families and made to fend for themselves. Most of them make a pilgrimage to the two main widow communities in Vrinavan and Varanasi. There they live out the rest of their lives among each other. They may only wear white, are completely excluded from participating in life and barely scrape a living. (Deepa Mehta’s searing (fictional) movie ‘Water’ follows the lives and trials of a small widow’s conclave in Varanasi in 1938. Recommended if harrowing viewing.) This Holi, against traditonalist opposition, many of them have come outside to douse each other with colour and celebrate the coming of Spring. This is quite possibly the best smile I’ve ever seen…



Holi celebrations could be compared to pagan Beltain festivities: The celebrations start with a bonfire the previous night. Folk join each other by the fire to revel. The next morning everyone gets up early and a riotous carnival of colours ensues. Everyone plays, chases each other and throws vibrantly hued powder and coloured water. Massive water gun -and balloon fights break out everywhere. Anyone and everyone is fair game, family, stranger, friend or foe, rich or poor, man or woman, children and elders. The entire city is overrun with frolicking people. Some go from place to place with musical intrsuments, there is song and dance all round. It is time for eating, drinking, love and intoxication: Bhang, made from cannabis leaves, is a common ingredient in drinks and sweets. 



(I have made a very conscious choice to show revelling, happy women: there is an aspect of Holi which is less savoury, which is that under cover of the powder men grab a chance to lay their hands on women. However, as this is a woeful component of the society any day and is something that is continually discussed, something about which movements for change are extremely vocal and activist, I have chosen to highlight moments of intimate exuberance.)



When night falls, people sober up and dress up, to go visit friends and family.

This historical image shows Holi celebrations with a group of women laying into some men with coloured powder. It is not uncommon for powder games to ensue where it very blatantly becomes about men vs women, family vs family or whole neighbourhoods against each other! Date unfortunately uncertain, possibly 1700s.



“Holi is celebrated at the approach of vernal equinox, on the Phalguna Purnima (Full Moon). The festival date varies every year, per the Hindu calendar, and typically comes in March, sometimes February in the Gregorian Calendar. The festival signifies the victory of good over evil, the arrival of spring, end of winter, and for many a festive day to meet others, play and laugh, forget and forgive, and repair ruptured relationships.” – Wikipedia



Two women touch foreheads in a quiet moment in the revelries.

For the many background legends on the significance of Holi in different regions of India, visit: http://www.holifestival.org/legends-of-holi.html

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For Steampunk Hands 2015: The Raj Revised: Steampunking History

Pyjamas. Shampoo. Candy. Doolally. Loot. Bungalow. Cushy. Junk.
These words are all part of daily English speech. (Doolally being a personal favourite.)
They wouldn’t have been part of the English language had they not been assimilated during the British presence in India during the 1900s.

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It’s a perfect way to detect how interwoven the two cultures are. The impact of the Raj is a ripple in the global historical pond that hasn’t stilled to this day.
India, the Jewel in the British Crown, the spice in the English economy, the Empire its Empress never set foot in. This is where Steampunk India comes in.
Steampunk is partly based on an avid love of history. Many Steampunks pride themselves on incorporating historically accurate aspects of the Victorian Era in their costuming, events or building projects.The genre has come quite a way from being mostly Western-centric, with costumes that only reflect the fashions of London society during a certain period, with personas and narratives that are predominantly culturally relevant to Caucasian participants.

More than most creative genres, Steampunk is placed to be truly multicultural, truly inclusive.
I have a fascination for the Victorian Era, a love for maritime history, and direct hereditary ties to the exploits of the British East India Trading Company. As a result I have an avid wish to see more India in Steampunk.
In particular more Indian India, as it were.
In general I want more of Africa, of China, Malaysia, Borneo, Argentina and other non-Western countries, specifically expressions of and representations by the people of each nation. Women, people of all colours, LGBT folk; it is deeply important to further a more egalitarian expression of race and gender, both within the context of events and performance and by authors of diverse heritage and persuasions.

The photo collage below forms an example of where Steampunk inspiration could be found. All these images are from the late 1800s – early 1900s. Clockwise starting top Right: An Indonesian Sarong Weaver. A Malaysian woman in Nonya attire. A young Berber from Tunisia. Araucanian Indians and gauchos, Chile. A young girl, Borneo, possibly from the Kayan tribe.

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Collaborating with others for multiculturalism is vital.
One such collaboration took place last year. I was involved in two events for The Clockwork Watch Transmedia Project created by Yomi Ayeni. Through comics, interactive events and a website featuring a fictional Gazette of the world, Yomi has created a Steampunk milieu where Indian culture plays a more prominent role.*

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(From Clockwork Watch: The Arrival by Yomi Ayeni & Corey Brotherson. Artwork: Jennie Gyllblad.)

As part of the year-long celebration of the 300th anniversary of Longitude in 2014, the Royal Museums in Greenwich organised two interactive events, featuring some of the characters from the Clockwork Watch comics: I played the role of Tinku Ranbir, wife of eminent Indian scientist Chan.
The second event, titled ‘Clocking Off Late’, featured a piece called ‘The Tinku Diaries‘. Tinku’s character occupied the floor of the Maritime Museum that houses the permanent exhibition ‘Traders: The East India Company and Asia’. Visitors to the gallery were introduced to Tinku and instantly submerged into the Clockwork Watch story which merged with the actual history of our world. Artist and musician Ziazan played a mischievous spirit, flitting in and out of the narrative, introducing the public to elements of the created world.
A selection of diary entries scattered around the displays for visitors to find were protectively snatched from them by Tinku’s companion,Thomas, (played by Philip Whiteman) coiling tight the spring of mystery and intrigue that winds the Clockwork Watch.

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(Left: Ziazan carrying a special edition of the Clockwork Watch book. Right to Bottom: Tinku at her desk. A diary extract featured in the fictional London Gazette on the Clockwork Watch Site. Tinku speaks to a museum visitor whilst Thomas looks on, ready to usher the lady away should things get too personal.)

Yomi’s request to create the diaries as an original composition of my own allowed free reign to show an intimate glimpse of Tinku’s mind and experiences. Tinku’s predicament became very immediate to me during this creative process; an Indian woman in a Western environment, trying to carve out a meaningful place for herself while preserving her own values and integrity.
Her diary was also the perfect vehicle to include titbits from the East India Company history and acquaint visitors with a deeper look under the surface. I further incorporated some of the artifacts and paintings that are permanent features of the exhibit, in order to mix fiction with history, as is the Steampunk wont.
In her diary, Tinku mentions a Wadia Sahib. She is referring to Jamsetjee Bomanjee Wadia, (c 1754-1821), Master Shipbuilder at the Bombay Docks. His portrait by J. Dorman is part of the Trader’s Gallery collection:

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The diary ‘extract’ is an original piece of fiction, written especially for Yomi Ayeni. There is a possibility it will eventually be included in the greater Clockwork Watch narrative. It was a true pleasure to write. Both the diary and the event it was part of form a great example of Steampunk used as a Classroom.
As part of Steampunk Hands 2015, The Tinku Diaries will be exclusively published to the Steampunk India website at the end of February. Date to be announced.

* http://www.clockworkwatch.com

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Steampunk Hands Around The World- Steamed puddings

A lovely bit of whimsy for Steampunk Hands Around the World by Tom & Nimue Brown, creators of the beautiful Hopeless, Maine comic and known for their excellent collaborations with eminent eccentric Professor Elemental…

The Moth Festival

Steam Pudding Punk

The steamed pudding is a Victorian icon. Whether blazing in burning brandy, steeped in custard or covered in jam, a period pudding is a thing to reckon with. The truly authentic pudding would feature the shredded fat taken from around the kidneys of cows (that’s suet!). There would be flour in it. After that, all bets are off, depending on what you can afford. Eggs? Sugar? Booze? Fruit? Spices? If you boil it in a shirt sleeve, you might call it dead man’s arm. If it’s very plain, it might be ‘old lady’s leg’. Put fruit in it, and for reasons best not explored, you could end up with a spotted dick.

Of course a modern enthusiast for Victoriana need not limit themselves to traditional recipes. You want cranberry and rum, you can have cranberry and rum! (I’m not offering to buy them for you, just to…

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