Madhvi Subrahmanian

The making of a Durga idol before a Durga Puja Festival in India.

“Between Myth and Ritual: Clay and its Many Forms in India”


It is only through the lens of the past, an appreciation of traditional form, rituals and history that one understands the complexities of the present and can cope with the uncertainty of the future. In an increasingly plastic and digital world, as an artist working with clay/earth I am interested in understanding the philosophical underpinning of my material and medium, the many references, symbolisms and stories connected to it, materially and spiritually especially in my own cultural context.
I present this paper not as a scholar but as a practicing artist and through my personal interests and travels in India. I will touch upon a few aspects of clay practices in India and discuss symbolism of clay, pot and clay forms, linking them through myth and ritual.

The complex Indian thought developed through the ages is circular and spiral in itsmovement keeping pre-historic elements alive within its arts and rituals. Through theuncoiling and recoiling of circular time and with every technological change we lose some traditions but others simply get transformed with much of their roots traceable to a distant past and philosophy. Myth allows re-interpretation of texts, and rituals make them tangible. Through ritual and tradition the new and alien are permitted to transform and become familiar symbols and metaphors, allowing for the primal thought to continue into our contemporary existence.

Click here to read Madhvi Subrahmanian’s paper

Click here to view Madhvi Subrahmanian’s presentation



éditorial N°1

Cette page web est axée sur le thème général de «Nouvelle Orientalia - Fonctionnalité, Spiritualité, Diversité».