The Dalit Foundation pursues the world's most important value - equality - and works to end the injustice of caste discrimination. By so doing, the Foundation works for the whole of humankind.
Barry Knight: Noted social scientist, Founder and Associate, CENTRIS, UK
Dalit Foundation is a registered charitable trust (no. E/16122/ Ahmedabad) under Bombay Public Trust Act 1950 (29th Act).
Between 1972 and 78 Erika Moser, a German anthropologist, made several visits to Sita Devi�s village, Jitwarpur to study and film the crafts and rituals of the Dusadhs, a Dalit community. Moser urged the Dusadh women to also start painting on paper to generate additional income for the house. Unfamiliar with the complex imagery used by the Kayastha and Brahmin women, the Dusadh women encouraged by Moser, began to take inspiration from their own oral, cosmological and aesthetic traditions and created their own three distinctive styles and techniques. The first, initiated by Chano Devi derived from the tattoo images many of them had on their arms and legs. This style came to be known as godna (tattoo) paintings. These paintings largely composed of rows and concentric circles of flowers, fields, animals, figures and spirits drawn with a pointed bamboo pen and lampblack ink. This style was adopted my many Dusadh women and soon was further innovated to include the use of bamboo brushes and a range of colors made from flowers, leaves, barks, berries, etc. The themes of the paintings also expanded and they came to include complex scenes from their daily village life and ritual practices. The tree of life, images of Hindu Gods and the 27 legendry hero of the Dusadhs Raja Salhesh have also started appearing commonly in the paintings of Chano Devi and other artists using the godna technique.
Till date godna remains the most popular style used by Dusadh artists. Chano Devi and her husband Rodi Paswan in their attempts to popularize and mainstream this art form have trained several artists. Ganeshwar Paswan, a fellow of Dalit Foundation is an artist trained by Chano Devi. Paswan has in turn trained five women namely with assistance from Dalit Foundation and is in the process of training 10 more in Madhubani. Inspired by the resolve of these artists, Dalit Foundation aims to create a training centre where more and more Dalits can be trained in godna art and be thus equipped to earn a decent livelihood. Dalit Foundation has also arranged for Chano Devi to train and guide five more Dalit women in godna with each of them producing three paintings a month. Through this programme the Foundation aims to link godna artists with the mainstream market in order to provide them with a sustainable source of livelihood and to cut out form the process the commission of the exploitative middle men.
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