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Mandvi Mandala 02

Mandvi Mandala 02

Subodh Kerkar


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Medium: Planks of old wooden dhows from Mandvi, fibreglass objects immersed in the ocean (with oysters grown on their surfaces), iron nails and pieces of roof tiles

Size: 183 cm in diameter x 20 cm in thickness

Year: 2019

This work is a ‘mnemonic’ device which explores the navigational history of India. It is created using wooden planks from old Dhows which were built in Mandvi docks in Gujarat. The Dhows must have sailed to many African countries, the Persian Gulf as well as the Red Sea carrying cotton, spices, tiles, oils, coconuts amongst many other goods. Scores of these Dhows lie anchored in Mandvi reminiscing their numerous voyages. One of the old sailors told me that Mangalore tiles were in high demand in the African countries. The artist has adorned the sculpture with pieces of Mangalore tiles which he found on the Mandvi coast. The under surface of boats get covered with oyster shells over years. He kept fibreglass objects and antique plates at the bottom of the ocean in a cage for over two years. Oyster shells grew on their surfaces. He then attached some of them to the Mandvi Mandala. The boatmen of Mandvi revealed to him that rusty nails from their Dhows get stolen. People use them in foundations of their homes because they believe that the nails will bring good luck. Some of those nails found a place on sculpture. The sea trade between India and Arabia dates back to the Indus Valley civilization. Lothal in Gulf of Khambhat, one of the southernmost cities of the civilization, is perhaps the first recorded port in the world. The disc also carries patterns of pepper corns carved onto the wooden surfaces since pepper was the most important export item from India. The trefoil designs which have been carved on the disc are borrowed from the robe of Priest-King’s sculpture from Harappa. A carving of a boat with birds was discovered in Mohenjo-Daro excavations. In ancient times, birds were supposedly used for navigation. So the artist replicated the carving on Mandvi Mandala. Over sixty percent of the world trade happened in Indian Ocean during medieval period. Mandvi Mandala celebrates the rich navigational history.


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