Tribal artist wins top Dutch honour


The 1934-born Mashe, who belongs to the Warli community, has been awarded for transforming the ritual art of his people into a relevant contemporary expression that elaborates their original vision on the rapport between nature and culture.

“Mashe is honoured for his creative reinvention of an art vocabulary that was disappearing, for his vivid representation of the Warli vision of nature and culture in equilibrium, for highlighting the contemporary relevance of local forms of knowledge, and for his significant contribution to the culture and development of the tribal people,” the awards jury says in its citation.

The award, to be presented to him by The Netherlands’ Ambassador Bob Hiensch on January 13, is accompanied by a cheque for €25,000 (Rs 17.5 lakh).

Traditionally, it was only women who painted a limited range of fertility images on internal mud walls during harvest and marriage ceremonies, and Mashe was the first Warli man to paint such images.

When a government programme promoting tribal arts supplied materials, Mashe adapted, applying mud to paper before painting with the traditional reed brush and rice paste.

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