Tuesday, May 30, 2006

My book on Lulu

Click on the book cover on left to heck out my latest book at Lulu. These are quotes which I have collected over the last 10 to 15 years while reading fiction and non-fiction from my favourite authors like Louis Lamour, Alistair Maclean, Clive Cussler and many others.

Product Details:

PDF (806 kb)
Download: 1 documents (PDF), 806 KB
Printed: 43 pages, 8.50" x 11.00", perfect binding, black and white interior ink
ISBN: 978-1-4116-8536-9
Publisher: Harpreet Kaur Kapoor
Copyright: © 2006 Standard Copyright License
Language: English
Edition: First
Lulu Sales Rank: 25,240

Rare Books

Paper born from a humble mixture set off mankind’s greatest communication revolutions

From aviation to zoology, the range of collectible books spans the entire range of human knowledge and experience. It all begins with an affinity towards books - by a particular author or a particular topic and voila! you are a book collector.

With some it is a passion, with others it was for fun or for money. But the first rule of collecting books is to ‘Collect’ and not accumulate. Unrelated , miscellaneous books will result in a library but not a collection. The most common way any individual begins by collecting books by a single author, though few authors have created works that may be considered classical in the long run like James Michener.

Collections can be made in any manner from books by; single authors, to particular subjects, in-depth collections, devoting an entire collection to different copies of just one great book like Alice in Wonderland. You need not be rich to start a collection but you need to have a ‘good eye’.

There are many factors which influence the price of rare books and every generation has its own collectibles. Most sought after are the first editions of few great books and those books-objects of desire which become a trend during the past few years. Book prices fluctuate from dealer to dealer, collectors generally see a doubling of prices when moving from a general bookseller to the specialist for most books.

First hand experience in the book market is a necessity. Though books are rarely as profitable as a well managed portfolio, they are more interesting to read. Collect what makes you happy, rare books often give an insight into the ways of life and past experiences that one cannot even imagine.

To collect a rare book keep in mind three things - condition, condition and condition. In order to possess the highest value, a rare book should be as close as possible to the physical state it was in when published. Collectors can range their collections from ‘very fine’, ‘fine’ to ‘very good’. Many books published during the 1900s are accompanied by a dust jacket, remove it and loose 50 to 90 per cent of the value of the book.

A dust jacket features eye-catching artwork, publishers blurbs, printed prices, reviewers comments, information about the author and list of related titles which make it invaluable. In short, you can judge a book by its cover.

Collecting books is an intense passion for even if you own a great many books does not necessarily make you a collector. A word of caution, before you begin collecting read and familiarise with the world of collecting, browse used-book stores and new-book stores and their rare books section. Online sourcing has become a major part of book collecting but do not buy before seeing the merchandise or talking to reputable dealers. The sign of good dealers; they provide detailed descriptions of each and every rare book, which takes a long time. One phrase description is not a good sign.

Restoring books

Rare Finds was begun in 1996 by Dilnavaz Mehta as a unique collection of original prints, old maps and antiquarian books. It came about from a personal interest in old books and ancient history. Her intention, to create an awareness by generating interest in these remarkable and unusual works and to effectively reach out to a large number of individuals.

An MSc in Microbiology, she has trained abroad. “But there are no fixed courses just workshops. I have attended workshops in Canada and UK.” With no specialised course for restoring books, it has been a learning experience while on the job. Every method took lots of experiments and work to perfect them, keeping in mind the Indian climate and the acidification effect on books available here. At the moment she is doing a course in Indian Aesthetics from Mumbai University.

She began by sourcing books from friends and relatives. “It was a gradual process.” Today she travels all over India to source books. And on the way she has made many friends amongst book sellers. She gets books mostly in pristine condition because of the price she is willing to pay. Dilnavaz is the first to receive a call at the appearance of a rare book at these sellers.

Restoring rare books is a very expensive business. Her equipment and substances needed to restore a book have to be ordered from abroad. Neither the course nor the substances needed for restoring are available in India. Restoring and binding a small book may cost just Rs.200. But that is not all, she always recommends whether the book is important enough to require restoration and binding. “The book may be too far gone to require a restoration. Some books may not be rare and may not need restoration and binding, it could be a waste of time and money. I always ask clients to get the book evaluated before going in for restoration.”

She also helps create and take care of libraries. “This does not mean just collecting books but also weeding out those that are not important to the library. Everyone reads paperbacks, bestsellers but directors like to read different books. To maintain a library I also recommend books that should be bought to enhance their collection.” Rare Finds has a wide selection of books published between 1775 to 1940 on literature, history, travel, art, architecture, archaeology, biographies, natural history (including shikar), old Mumbai, British India and British history of India.

Caring for books
by Dilnavaz Mehta

To give you lasting pleasure and appreciated value over the years they have to be kept in a good condition. All the factors, which lead to physical damage and acidification of the pages, have to be avoided. As far as possible keep the book in its original condition. Do not put plastic covers on very old books as these are hardbound copies and laminating them with plastic would cause the cover to bend. Clean the books with a soft cloth preferably white muslin.

Regularly open books, which have leather cover as disuse could lead to cracks in the leather. Clean the books frequently and air them randomly opening a group of pages. If possible air them in the direct sun for a few minutes constantly changing the exposed pages. Do not put books in an environment, which is moist, store them in closed cupboards or showcases. Preferably store old books on their backs and not vertically on the spine. This takes the pressure of the spine, which is the part that shows maximum amount of wear and tear.

Do not store books over a long period of time in an area, which faces direct sunlight, as the sunlight will lighten the exposed areas. Do not use DDT powder. Do not keep tobacco leaves within the pages as they accelerate acidification.

Do not keep pressed flowers, leaves, ribbons, and cards in old books. They leave an impression on the pages and in the case of flowers and leaves it leads to accelerated acidification. It is convenient to use naphthalene in those units where books are stored. While reading an old book, do not open the book fully by spreading it out under pressure, as this will cause the pages to loosen from the spine.

If there are any stains, tears, insect bites, pinholes then get the book restored / repaired from a professional. Do not use regular glues for mending tears. Do not use cello tape it only harms the paper and it is very difficult to remove once it is stuck. The stains left behind on the paper by the tape are very persistent and often can be seen on the paper even after restoration.

If you are starting / building a collection then buy those books which are in a good condition. It is a falacy that old books have to be necessarily in a poor condition. Buy old books from a reputed dealer which assures you of an authentic piece. If you think you have inherited or come across a valuable book then get it evaluated – you might get lucky.

Box:

Some of the books that are going to on display at Cymroza Art Gallery from 27-30 November,2002 :
•Portrait of Sakharam Hari Gupta, a general of the Maratha army- with a sketch of his life by B.A.Gupte – 1886
•Religious establishments, festivals and customs of Mewar by Lieut. Col James Todd – 1892
•The Kanchenjunga adventure by F.S.Smythe – 1930
•Durbar by Mortimer Menpes – 1903
•Sport in Many lands by the Old Shekarry – 1890
•Memoirs of his Highness Shri Shahu Chhatrapati Maharaj of Kolhapure by A.B.Latthe – 1924
•History of India by L.J.Trotter – 1889
•Kashmir by Francis Younghusband – 1924
•In times of Peril by G.A. Henry
•The martial Races of India by Sir George Macmunn – 1935

Rangoli

The best way to attract the Goddess of wealth, Lakshmi, is with a colourful rangoli in your courtyard

The origin of rangoli or floor painting is traced to a legend recorded in Chitralakshana-the earliest Indian treatise on painting. When the son of a high priest died, Lord Brahma, asked the king of the high priest to paint the likeness of the boy on the floor so that he may breathe life into him again. This is how the first floor painting is said to have been created.

The Chola rulers made extensive use of floor paintings, now known by different names in different parts of the country; alpana in Bengal, aripana in Bihar, madana in Rajasthan, rangoli in Gujarat and Maharashtra, chowkpurana in Uttar Pradesh and kolam in the south.

The term rangoli is derived from rang (colour) oli or avalli (coloured rows)and is practiced throughout India. Rangoli as it is called is a speciality of Western India (Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan) and is called floor art in Eastern Indian states (Bengal, Orissa, etc).

In a traditional household, the lady of the house starts her daily chores and routine after a bath and drawing of rangoli in front of the pooja (prayer) room and the tulsi (ocimum sanctum)plant. The motifs in rangoli are usually taken from nature and the colours which were traditionally derived from natural dyes. However, synthetic dyes in powder form are used today with a wide range of bright colours. These materials give the rangoli a very flat appearance, but a 3-D effect can be given with the help of whole flowers, pulses, grains and beads.

Diwali rangoli

Gods have always loved things of beauty and the best way to attract the Goddess of wealth, Lakshmi, is with a colourful rangoli in your courtyard. During Diwali specific designs are meant and made for specific days . Some people prefer to stick to one design throughout the five-day festive period. The designs that are made are symbolic and follow geometrical patterns- lines, dots, squares, circles, triangles. Symbols such as swastika, lotus, trident, fish, conch-shell, foot-prints represents goddess Lakshmi and figures of other deities, chariots, temples, motifs of plants, flowers, animals such as cows, elephants, horses, and birds like eagles and swans, etc are also made. The most important part of this exercise -there must be no broken line, or gaps in the rangoli design for evil spirits to enter.

To make a rangoli

Draw the entire pattern with a chalk or rice powder and fill in with: coriander seeds, sesame seeds, cereals, pulses or other natural colouring agents. A combination of masoor dal (orange) with rice (white), moong (green), coriander seeds (yellowish green), tur dal (yellow) and wheat will give you six basic colours to play around with.

You can also mix the rangoli colours with crystal salt as it is easy to fill in blank spaces. This kind of rangoli stays fresh for many days and is ideal for beginners. Using petals of various flowers, chrysanthemums, marigolds, daisies, roses, jasmine and green leaves; various patterns and colours can be created to fill into huge places. Large flowers like such as dahlias can also be used as whole.

The latest trend is to cut thermocol pieces into various shapes and once you have a design in mind, paint them with watercolours. Next create designs with real flowers or use pom-pom’s on the edges, golden, silver thread, mirrors, beads and various other such knick-knacks used in embroidery and handicraft. Stick these on with the help of pins creating your own semi-permanent rangoli. You can also stick small diyas (mud lamps) on the centre or towards the edges of the thermocol. This kind of rangoli is perfect for large houses and makes an interesting corner piece too. And you can change the design as and when you wish without a mess.

It is also very easy to draw lines- geometric and symmetrical shapes, drawn with dry rice powder or with rice paste this rangoli is called kolam, in the south. The dry, coarsely ground rice powder is placed between the thumb and forefinger and moved along a predetermined design.

Decorating the floor in different parts of the house is believed to be a good omen. The entrance decoration is a gesture of welcome. So this Diwali, welcome Lakshmi into your house with a eye-catching rangoli!

Colourful Motifs

Mandana art has always been symbolic of festive occasions in Rajasthan. Sacred moments are sanctified by these line drawings.

Text by Lakhichand Jain
Translated by Harpreet Kaur

Mandana, a unique art form of the state of Rajasthan, is extensively used at weddings and during Diwali, Holi and other religious occasions. Mandana drawings were done on mudlayered walls of homes, on public walls and chowks (squares). But these types of homes no longer exist to recreate a perfect mandana art motif, and so this art form is fast disappearing.

Mandana is a different form of the Sanskrit word mandan which means to discover, and mandana means to draw with lines and create a work of art.

Seeing a mandana inevitably makes me sing ‘padharo maahre desh’ (come to my land), and makes me remember colourful Rajasthan. Memories immediately spring to mind, of sand swirled landscapes where sunsets are a riot of colours – deep yellow-ochre and splashes of red. A slow moving caravan of camels in the background, that look like cut-outs moving on the sand in slow motion, rounds off the nostalgic moment. During the Pushkar and the Jaisalmer melas, the dholak, sarangi and khadtal keep time and rhythm as tales of valour of Rajasthani heroes are being sung.

As the night progressively turns cold, the winds cause ripples on the sand. With different states that make up our country, the myriad traditions and cultures also have their own distinctive folk art. Mandana is one of the many folk arts. Like Pithora from Madhya Pradesh, Madhubani from Mithila in Bihar, Warli from Maharashtra, Alpana from Bengal, Kolam from the south and Pattachitra from Orissa. Mandana is a different form of the Sanskrit word mandan which means to discover, and mandana means to draw with lines and create a work of art. On all festivals and religious occasions, people of Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra draw mandana. There was a time when mandana was used to a very large extent in these states, and Rajasthani and Marwari people would create large and colourful mandanas.

During Diwali, villages with mud homes would be layered with geru-gobar (brick and dung solution) to give an even and dry surface. After drying, a small strip of cloth (white) would be dipped in the mixture and a mandana drawn on every corner of the house – doors, windows, courtyards and walls. First an outline and then various shapes like triangles, squares, perpendicular lines, rectangles, octagons were drawn, which were anywhere between two to ten feet large.

While drawing mandanas, one needs to have complete concentration because mistakes cannot be improved on or corrected. While drawing traditional mandanas, no implements like brushes are used. Only a thin stick with the tip covered in cotton is used. This unique art is sometimes drawn from inside out or outside in. Small dots and lines are used to make a complete form. Just using various geometrical patterns can also create different styles, with each having its own personality. After the mandana dries, according to the occasions, kalash (metal pot), chaval (rice), phulpati (flowers and leaves), supari (areca nut), nagweli (areca) leaves and diya (mud lamps) are used to decorate it.

During the four days of Diwali, many different styles are created – mud lamps and lights are used to create a light and shadow fusion that is worth seeing. Earlier, the use of sindoor (vermilion), haldi (turmeric), neel (indigo) and phulpati (flowers) were ground to create colours.

It is regarded as inauspicious to keep the garden and open spaces in homes empty during festive occasions. That is the reason why most traditional Rajasthani and Jain homes have mandana decorations. Earlier, mandanas were created keeping in mind decorative styles mentioned in the Vedas and used to ward off black magic. The designs were symbolic, and some realistic ones were also incorporated which are not seen anymore. The Veda Puranas mention mandana art, but these mandanas are no longer seen or written about. During Vedic times, to get the blessings of the Gods and to be in their good books, hom-havans( ri tuals ) were conducted.

To make the puja successful, the area that was demarcated as the puja area was sprayed with gowmutra (cow urine) and then covered with a layer of red clay and gobar (cowdung) to cleanse it. Then squares, triangles and pentagons were drawn. These were filled with food, flour, turmeric, sindoor, sandalwood powder and colourful flowers. Mandana was also drawn to safeguard that sacred space from the asuras (demons), so that Gods and Goddesses would grace the occasion without fear. In case they could not find their way to the venue, directions were also drawn!

It is believed that mandana has its own style, design and language – it only needs somebody who can read and understand this form. This art form survived for centuries, but is now fast disappearing. It is closely related to the fields of Vaastu, beauty and adyatam (study) yantras (tantric diagrams). It now needs individuals who can link mandana motifs with these ancient concepts. This will help in unravelling and understanding this folk art. As in any disappearing or frequently unused form of art, the need of the moment is for mandana to get mainstream recognition and global accreditation. Only then can such dying arts get that vital breath of life they need to survive.

So, Mr Lakhichand Jain has made it his mission to propagate mandana via the commercial route. He has given a modern look to mandana art. Every year, he designs coins with mandana art motifs engraved on them. These have, for example, ‘pray for better rains’ with a square umbrella embossed on them. Today mandanas are showcased on jewellery, high fashion labels, paper products, textiles, corporate products, TV and films. Glass, copper, brass, tin and gold have also been used as a medium to create mandanas.

About the author:
Lakhichand Jain is master of applied art and is also an artist and product designer. He is a faculty member in the fashion design department at BD Somani Institute of Fashion Technology in Mumbai. He has been awarded many national awards and is planning to document this art form. In 2002-2003, he recreated mandanas from fading impressions. A design of the popular elephant headed God, Ganesh, was made and called Vinayak ki Jai, which he showcased at the Artist Centre and Bajaj Gallery. For more information, tel: 022 25339865 or log onto: www.intergold.co.in/mandana. He can also be contacted at lakhi_youthindia@rediffmail.com.

Asian Art

Representing almost all schools of Indian sculptural art and three major religions, the works span two millennia, from the second century B.C.E. to the nineteenth century C.E. Excerpted from Asian Art At The Norton Simon Museum.

Norton Simon (1907-1993) stands as one of the great American collectors of the twentieth century. An inspired connoisseur, he distinguished himself as an interested student and discerning critic. In less than thirty years, from the 1950’s until the 1980’s, he amassed what is widely regarded as one of the world’s greatest art collections. Although initially interested in Impressionism, he soon added works from many periods and cultures. The Norton Simon Museum now encompasses European and American art from the pre-Renaissance through the twentieth century, by such artists as Raphael, Rembrandt, Tiepolo, Goya, Degas, van Gogh, C ézanne, Kandinsky, and Picasso, among many others. Even more remarkable is the extensive Asian art collection, consisting of more than six hundred objects from the Indian subcontinent, the Himalayas, and Southeast Asia. This outstanding group was assembled in little more than a decade.

Art and artifacts
The art and artifacts are from a wide geographic area known as the Indian subcontinent, a region now divided into four sovereign countries: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India and Pakistan.

Until 1947, when the British left the subcontinent, after dividing it into India and Pakistan, “India” was the English designation for the entire subcontinent. There was a flourishing civilization on the subcontinent stretching especially from the Panjab in the northwest to Gujarat in the southwest and east of Delhi for almost two millennia before the arrival of speakers of the Indo-European language is now firmly established by archaeology. This civilization is known as the Indus or Harappan (named after an early site discovered in the 1920s). The material culture of this civilization, even without a centralized polity, was remarkably uniform across the vast area.

For example, brick was the principal building material of the Harappan peoples, and it remains so today, even in an age of steel and concrete.

Although no monumental sculptures in stone have come to light from any Indus site, that the art of stone carving had reached a high standard is evident from the miniature seals and small objects that have been found. Consisting mostly of animals and plants with fewer anthropomorphic figures, these seals are admirable for their accurate representations, fine carving, and aesthetic quality.

Pots were shaped and painted and sculptures were modeled in terracotta, and a great deal was also likely produced in unfired clay, as it is still done in many parts of the subcontinent. Naturalistic and abstract modeling characterizes the terracotta objects, which has a wide variety of uses, both sacred and secular . Terra-cotta has remained a popular medium well into modern times and was readily available.

The earliest objects in the collection were made neither in stone nor in terracotta but in metal. They are mostly utilitarian objects–ax, spearhead, harpoon–belonging to what has come to be termed as the Copper Hoard Culture. Stretching over the last three millennia before the beginning of the Common Era, this culture was confined to the region known as the Doab, east of the Yamuna River in present-day Uttar Pradesh and in Bihar and West Bengal. Bihar has remained a rich source for copper and iron ores. Knowledge about metallurgy dates far back in time, and, although prehistoric India is yet to yield anything as sophisticated as discoveries in China, bronze was extensively used by the Harappans.

Most stone sculptures in the collection once belonged to religious edifices. Some were structurally functional, such as the early column, lintel, or a doorjamb. The vast majority served particular didactic or religious purposes. While a few may have been used as principal icons within the sanctum, most were either attached directly to a wall or occupied a subsidiary shrine (devakoshtha) within the temple or a niche on the external wall of a temple. Their placement on the wall is determined by cosmological, ritual, and iconographic requirements, clearly enunciated in appropriate texts. Each wall in each of the four directions, both outside and inside, must be embellished with specific images, which are often manifestations of the principal deity of the shrine, members of his of her extended family, directional divinities, or celestial and mythological beings. The temple is both a representation of the cosmos as well as an earthly habitat of the gods.

Because of the strong dependence on architecture, most Indian sculptures are in relief, the depth depending on the exact position or use of the sculptures. Many works in the collection are fragmentary and were probably found underground. Others are more complete, and their shapes indicate that they were likely placed in a sanctum or deep niche, where only the front would have been seen. From about the eighth century increasingly in most areas of northern India, the sculptors cut away the stele around the central figure to impart it with greater volume and depth. The backs, however, were frequently left unfinished or perfunctorily treated. Only in a relatively few instances is the figure completely released from the background so that the representation appears to be freestanding.

Generally in Buddhist dedications most inscriptions begin with the expression deyadharma, which characterizes the gift as “meritorious,” and end with the imprecation that the goal is to attain the ultimate or absolute knowledge (anuttara jnana) for parents and teachers and for all sentient beings, including the donor.

The two Bharut columns as well as the more complete example from Mathura provide glimpses of early Indian architecture. As parts of railings surrounding the stupa, they imitate earlier wooden architectural forms. With different iconography, the Mathura pillar in particular could have served a secular building, such as a palace, which at the time would have been built mostly in wood. Many architectural elements are carved in the niches and the crowning shrine is probably an accurate representation of a contemporary structural temple.

Hindu art of the Gupta period is represented in the collection by a few but impressive sculptures. Only two Buddhist sculptures in the collection are from the Gupta period: the lower portion of a sandstone Buddha and a more complete metal image.

The vast majority of the works in the collection were created between 700 and 1900 by unknown artists. Almost all the stone sculptures were made for temples, but the metal images had wider functions. Some were made for personal use in domestic shrines, others were commissioned as acts of piety and given to temples or monasteries, where they may or may not have received worship, and still others especially the large selection of south Indian bronzes were mostly used for periodic religious processions.

Most Indian objects in the collection are from Tamil Nadu, but there are also interesting and historically important works from Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, and Kerala. The oldest sculptures dating to the early centuries of the Common Era are fragments from Buddhist monuments of the Amaravati region in Andhra Pradesh. Carved from the distinctive white or green white limestone, the sculptures of this school are among the most energized and elegant of the early period. Otherwise, one bronze and possibly a stone represent the art of Andhra Pradesh during the period under review. The bronze depicting Somaskanda is particularly interesting as it may be the only example of a metal sculpture in an American collection from the Nolamba realm.

(Published with permission from the publisher. Excerpted from Asian Art At The Norton Simon Museum Volume 1, Art From The Indian Subcontinent. By Pratapaditya Pal, Published by Mapin in association with Norton Simon Art Foundation and Yale University Press.)