Living with the Tribals

"Berkeley Tribals", 1969, Berkeley, Mumbiram

Even before he went to Berkeley, Mumbiram was attracted to the tribals and their way of life that is close to nature. In America Mumbiram was attracted to Afro-Americans, Seventh Day Adventists, Krishna devotees, Germans, Hispanics and many others. After coming back to India after 12 years in the US, Mumbiram was drawn to the exotic folk people of India, the Phasepardhis, Warlis, Thakurs and others. Being accepted by them and invited to stay with them seemed the natural thing for this ‘lonely cavalier in the fields of beauty’. Yet it can also be seen as just the magical stroke of providence that inspired Mumbiram to Rasa masterpieces.
He had kept with a Thakur family the first painting of Krishna he made after returning to India.

Mumbiram’s approach is thought provoking. He does not go to the Adivasis or to the bird-catchers or to the rag-pickers as a do-gooder. He sees his association with them as a learning and creative environment for his own aesthetic search. This is distinctly different from the attitude of the social worker who is insensitive to the grace and the ambiance of the natural people and who in the long run may only bring a cheerless ruin to their happy lives as a price of ‘civilization’.

Warli Tribe

Between 1980 to 85 Mumbiram was going into the forest and living with different tribes in Maharashtra. One of them were the Warli Tribals north of Mumbai.


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