Sport ancient lithographic prints on your T-shirt, created by Aurovillian Kavitha Urvasie Selvaraj and family
avitha Urvasie Selvaraj’s tryst with lithography began in 1994 when she visited Madurai with her family and bought lithographic prints from antique shops. Today she has 400 prints that include depictions of gods, goddesses, architecture, landscape, flora and fauna. With a desire to share this heritage art with the community, she chose six images from her collection and printed them on T-shirts. This pilot project of tees was first displayed in Solar Kitchen Auroville, earlier this year. “The prints we have collected have been worked on by professional artistes who were capable of working with stone and later printing from them,” begins Selvaraj, 23, who works with her mother, Aurora Ueberle of Dutch origin and 12-year-old sister Chandana Grenier Ueberle.
Gods and War
“Think about today’s Mahabharata comics—these lithographic prints are not divided into comic boxes, but contain similar illustrations. Some pieces have descriptions of old-Tamil scriptures that we are having trouble deciphering. Some texts appear to be from the Thirukural,” says Selvaraj. They have a variety of prints, from Lord Narasimha, Krishna, Hanuman and Ganesha. They also have demons, re-incarnations of gods, an assortment of animals like elephants, deer, cows, birds and snakes. Kings and their courtroom, Brahmins performing rituals, war/battle (with arrows and chariots), images of temples and dancing girls all find a place on their tees. They are currently scanning all the prints for archiving purposes.
More to come
The trio also plan to work on bags, skirts, lungis, table cloth, pillow covers, bed sheets and pottery. “We are very interested in printing on organic, handmade paper and creating products for all age groups. We hope to hold workshops, exhibitions and interactive sessions on reviving our heritage with the wider community,” says Selvaraj, adding, “The ideas are many, however we are searching for those who wish to collaborate; such as artists with specific knowledge of traditional Indian stone art and Indian linguistics for script translations, and product designing.” Surprisingly, all the T-shirts are available only in red. “We wanted the product to be 100 per cent organic cotton and printed with natural dyes. We were offered several samples and the red is what spoke to us,” says Aurora, who is working from her home in Auroville and plans to launch an e store and retail from Chennai and Pondicherry.
— Mrinalini Sundar