Where the Shadows Speak
Arts Illustrated|June - July 2020
Where the Shadows Speak
The founder of Sarmaya Arts Foundation takes us through the bylanes of his journey with Sindhe Chidambara Rao, the custodian of the ancient art form of shadow puppetry – Tholu Bommalata
Paul Abraham

Hanumana, early 21st century, by Sindhe Chidambara Rao, © Sarmaya Arts Foundation.

Tara, early 21st century, by Sindhe Chidambara Rao, © Sarmaya Arts Foundation.

Rakshasa (Ravan Sena), early 21st century, by Sindhe Chidambara Rao, © Sarmaya Arts Foundation

In the summer of 2019 I travelled to Dharmavaram in Andhra Pradesh to visit Sindhe Chidambara Rao. Dharmavaram is steeped in history, with ancient temples and weaving looms. Greeting us at the end of our journey in front of a house with a yellow door was Chidambara Rao. I first met Chidambara in 2013 at a Paramparik Karigar exhibition held in Mumbai where I acquired a few of his puppets. Over the years, our relationship grew from that of a collector and artist to a deep and abiding friendship.

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June - July 2020