Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Storytelling in different states of India

Storytelling in India is a tradition that has been developed and modified over the years while maintaining the originality of the stories and the methods to tell these stories. Some human experiences—joy, sorrow, longing, despair—are universal and hence stories that grow out of such experiences can appeal to many people. The names and places can be diverse and spread around the various states of India, but the story itself can happen anywhere. Such stories, from people in all places and times, are part of the heritage of every storyteller and every story. In India each region has developed its own style and tradition of story telling in various regional languages. Epics such as the Ramayana & Mahabharata, the Panchtantras, Puranas - tales ancient stories of wisdom in Sanskrit and various other folk are the common story material for all or most of the regions of India. Many old traditions storytelling is synonymous with song, chant, music, or epic poetry, especially when it comes to Indian storytelling traditions. Stories may be chanted or sung, along with musical accompaniment on a certain instrument. Other forms of storytelling include illustrations which often have hymns sung along with it. The medium used for these illustrations range from clothes to palm leaves to earthenware. The colours used are usually natural colours and hence are limited. The fascinating aspect of these storytelling methods in India is that they are often restricted to a particular community of people in these states. They follow their age old traditions for the way they tell their stories and have stories of their own about their origin. With time, as the stories have changed, not only ancient epics and Sanskrit folk tales, but also modern and contemporary stories have been found to become a part of Indian traditional storytelling. For my project I intend to study these methods that are followed by the various storyteller communities of India. Using a story that is narrated in these diverse ways throughout India, I want to present the style and method used by these communities so as any one who is unaware of these storytelling traditions gets an overview. Their study and representation should be such that a person viewing the same story in various styles should be instantly able to make a comparison between the various styles and understands the nuances and minute differences between them which not only lie in the way they are illustrated but also in the choice of colours, difference in symbols used to represent the same thing, the medium used for these illustrations and the way in which the same story is narrated in various ways.

1 comment:

andreas said...


storytelling is probably one of the most basic forms of communication and the sprouting up of 'social' sites is an obvious testimony to that-
many design methods use it as a means to engage people, learn, understand - but also manipulate.
we are very susceptible to the stories we are told, we'd like to hold them as a token for the relationship to the person who told us. teller and listener are equally engaged - the former in his attempt to commmunicate most efficiently to the specific listener/group of listeners, re-ordering the balance of focus/choice of language/words each time to best suit the understood/recognized/anticipated listening- patterns of those who receive
the latter molding/integrating the story in their universe of knowledge/understanding curiously eager to also look for expansions...
technologies of RECORDING, starting from writing systems, are getting, the less they require abstraction, in the way. stories become externalised static artefacts. vulnerable, deletable.
huh! sorry, i seem to have veered off...

yes, i think it could be very interesting to study the patterns on both sides - story-teller and story-listener and see how they may impact design ideas/solutions of more pragmatic purposes/needs.
i remember that in 100 years of solitude by gg marquez there is a tree, baring local knowledge on little paper notes, like fruits - could story-stickers become an interface for people who can not - for whatever reasons - read and have nobody araound to explain/instruct/warn?

keen to see how you go on ;-)