Trees of the Deccan in stories
(Working title) Ongoing illustration project
This Project began with my curiosity in the most passive of our everyday living companions. We spend much of our lives with these creatures and yet we know so little about them. When I was asked to name the trees commonly found in the region I was brought up in, I could hardly come up with a list of about fifteen. An almost similar list was repeated by many people around me when they were asked the same question. Later as I walked through the streets of Pune I realised that I could hardly recognize about half of the trees I saw. As I took further interest in the
matter, I concluded that it was the specialists or
the enthusiasts who could name most of the trees and not the common people. They were the same trees that were growing tall and rampant everywhere all around us. As I went along I found out that the lives of trees are a rich, fascinating testament of Time with their stories spanning various cultures and
geographies. They grow, spread and adapt to highly varying climates and soils populating the planets with their various subspecies. Since they have been well known to mankind, albeit not much in the cities, and to the animal kingdom as reliable friends for uses medicinal, spiritual and prophetic, they make a great subject for illustrative storytelling. I have initiated this project in the hope to engage and excite other non-experts like me to take an interest in the fascinating lives of trees. Through the tales collected from all around the world I intend to tell the stories of the trees of the Deccan plateau.
All the illustrations have been painted on watercolour paper with high pigment acrylics. To begin this project, I have chosen thirty-six trees found on the Deccan plateau. The plateau spreads across eight states in the western, central and southern parts of India. Stories of these trees are compiled and edited from various open source materials found on the internet (*with credits). The ideal end product of this project would be an illustrated book printed on 100% recycled paper with a digital version of the same. Each of the illustrations takes about two months for completion. The size of the illustrations along with the quality of the materials used and the time required to complete each illustration has made it an investment heavy project. As of now I am pursuing this project in my spare time but it would be ideal if I can dedicate two to three years at a stretch for it's completion. That would require investment from a third-party funder interested in the publishing rights or copyrights of the project or book. Organisations, universities or individuals interested in funding this project can email me on email@example.com
The Kadamba or Kadam Tree botanically known as the Neolamarckia Cadamba has peculiar looking flowers, perfectly spherical in shape ranging from bright neon green to yellow in colour. These flowers are used to make attar (oil based perfume) which is considered to be difficult to obtain and rare to find. It is said that the Kadam attar was known in Mughal India for its sedative properties and was used as medicine to cure insomnia.
Bombax Ceiba is the botanical name of Kaate Sawar as it is known in marathi. It is a tree with bright pink-red flowers. When it grows bigger its thorns grow larger on its body giving it a
malevolent appearance. Perhaps for this very reason or maybe for some other, there is a myth that goes around in Trinidad and Tobago that the 'Devil of Death' lives in this tree. A story from this region tells us about a clever lumberman who in a bid to evade his own death managed to trap the devil of death. He tricked the devil to go inside the trunk under the pretext of showing him his newly built house and locked him in.