EARTH ART PROJECT, LADAKH 2014
Residency and DD’s work at two places
NANG village at 3700 m altitude is in Chuchot Block in Leh Ladakh District of Jammu & Kashmir State, India. It is located 13 KM towards South from District head quarters Leh. 300 KM from State capital Srinagar, Jammu.
Nang means surrounded by mountains which is the characteristic of this beautiful small place. Nang village at the altitude of 3700m, is a village comprising of cluster of houses, with farming land which mainly grow potatoes, peas, green leafy vegetables. There is a small stream which flows besides the village which is drying due to rapidly melting of glaciers. The Nang middle school at the end is a nascent home to all the young children of this village.
DD aimed to research and study the indigenous practices and document the assets of the region. Through its programs, it initiated awareness and pride among the youth and community to preserve their traditional knowledge and practices through art and culture bridging the gap between generations.
Village anthropological, ecological and cultural study and documentation.
Research and documentation – with a local herbal doctor Namchi on medicinal and aromatic plants.Organized talks by Namchi to discuss with children and local villagers the benefits of easily found medicinal plants.
Interactions and field visits with children to collect medicinal and aromatic plant samples.
Workshops with children culminating in wall paintings on the rich biodiversity and natural heritage of the region
NANG: A Village Surrounded by Mountains
Ladakh a beautiful arid desert is cut off by four mountain ranges, the great Himalayas, Karakoram, Zaskar and the Ladakh range. Though most of the region is barren, certain narrow valleys like NANG are fertile and suitable for farming in the summer season, which is for four months.
Cultural and Environmental Heritage
The community of NANG holding on to their ancestral farming practices cultivated crops which are stored for the rest of the year. In recent years Climate change, receding glaciers, increased tourism and transportation is disturbing the ecological balance of the region. The village with a population of not more than 400 people organise community festivals such as archery festival where the men compete with each other through the sport and the women perform traditional Ladhaki dance followed by local food and drinks uniting the community and children.
Interactions and Co-creation
Through workshops, field trips, research with community children along with interactions with villagers a series of art works were created which helped in creating awareness and a knowledge base through visuals for the future generation to value the habitual and medicinal practises of their ancestors. They understand the importance of the wildly and abundantly grown aromatic and medicinal plants to conserve it within the region.
Visual album with all scientific information on medicinal and aromatic plants
Art works and installations addressing the environmental heritage crisis of the region
Exhibition of art works and data along with interaction with students and villagers from nearby localities at Nang middle school. Two co-created wall murals at Nang school.
A series of short documentary films on ‘Disappearing Streams’; ‘A Cultural Rhythm at Archery Festival’; ‘Echoes from the Mountains’; ‘Chuskit’s Ideal Pastime’.
Changthang, meaning “northern plateau” in Tibetan, is a high plateau that stretches about 1600 km from Ladakh to the Chinese state of Qinghai. This beautiful valley, home to the nomadic Changpas, was of great interest to Disappearing Dialogues – specifically because the Changpas are in an unending struggle with nature now to conserve their ways of life and cultural heritage in the face of environmental crises.
Research and documentation- Nomadic life and culture of Changpas and the growing challenges to continue their traditional nomadic life, unpredictable natural disasters
Creating artworks based on experiences of the environmental heritage.
Field visits to nomadic villages and homes of the students collecting elements of nomadic culture and interviewing them on their cultural and environmental heritage.
Workshop and preparation of a Geo- Choreography in collaboration with children.
Seminar with students and staff on climate change and challenges in the Himalayas.
PUGA: The Nomadic Residential School
Changthang valley at 5000m altitude, home of nomadic Changpas. The Residential nomadic school, Puga was established in the year 2007 by the government of Himachal Pradesh. Officially, Changthang belongs to India and nomadic Changpas make their living by raising yaks and goats. In the past there was no provision of formal education for tribes or their children. The tribes still follow barter system. The Nomadic residential school in Puga is trying to change the system by providing basic education. During winters the children return to their parents who survive in extreme climates with their traditional method using natural resources in sustainable ways.
The future of the children will be ideally to combine their traditional knowledge with their newly acquired scientific knowledge.
Cultural & Environmental Heritage
The Changthang tribes are located on the border of India and Tibet and have cultural blend of both countries. They are located at a high altitude of 4500 meters bordering Tibet on one side and India on the other side. Changpas see themselves as Tibetan Buddhists; their belief in Buddhism and its spiritual outlook towards life reflects within their culture deeply., Buddhism practiced by the nomads believe in inner spiritual way of living and to fear a vengeful god if one strays… maybe their nomadic way of life demands so. The prayers at home and mask festival at monastery is a reflection of this belief to drive away evil forces.
Nomadic Changpas and Habitual Practices
Nomads living in the Changthang valley flock their livestock for pastures that cannot be cultivated and for hundreds of years, Changpa tribes have carefully worked out a process of rotating pastures to prevent overgrazing. To find new food for their flock they move to fresh locations, but along a known path. They have separate summer and winter shelters where they rotate as they move on. The men with their goats, sheep and yaks go for gazing, while women and children look over household activities. The traditional Rebo made out of Yak wool is the most scientific tent as it is rainproof,windproof yet filter sunlight through its weave.
Interactions and Co-creation
● A pop up museum display with art works and collectibles from villages and local environment to project the balance of elements of nature and the traditional values and importance of the rich culture of nomadic life against the materialistic urban life of 21st century.
● ‘Whispers & Vibrations’ a Geo-Choreography in collaboration Nomadic Residential School children, Puga, Ladakh
● Honored by the Rimpoche- the Buddhist head of Korzok monastery, Ladakh with a Khajaj for our efforts to create such a unique dialogue.
● Exhibition and project presentation of works by participating artists at the Japan Foundation, New Delhi.