The Khasi visual arts tradition

Social tendency is determined by people who are aware of the collective and personal tastes influenced by the dominant culture within the specific community. Spiritual zeal for religious affairs is a factor that facilitates the social taste of community, the social taste of community, even though secular images in popular culture can create a huge impact on people and society. In this regard, the Western world is the model that has provided the emblematic elements for the rest of the world to follow, even for religious considerations. Eastern Buddhist images are popularized by the Mongol race, although Buddha originated from the Indian subcontinent. Western Christian images of Europe have dominated other Christian traditions elsewhere in the world, and indeed, the Renaissance art of the great masters is the bastion of Christian identity. Islamic art from the nations of the Middle East is the standard imposed on followers around the world. The Hindu artistic tradition is confined to the dominated regions of the Indian subcontinent and some Southeast Asian countries, although local flavor is incorporated wherever deemed appropriate. The imitation and simulation of superficial elements of extraterrestrial lore could be a parody of the original custom prevalent in the community. It is an aspect of influence that might not be authentic or appropriate for the particular community. The modern trait of Western origin might suit some situations, although generally it might look ridiculous. The community with strong cultural traditions will more than often adapt foreign elements to the local essence, while the ancient community with limited cultural identity is vulnerable to inappropriate simulation of strange characteristics. Some communities were able to adapt the unknown part of the modern features and create a local version of them, while others entirely borrowed and neglected their original features. These situations will facilitate the emergence of improvised characteristics of the different communities. In this regard, the larger community will impose its tradition and smaller communities may be vulnerable to assimilation or totally overwhelmed by the austere culture. All these developments will affect the visual culture of the community from various sensitivities in dress, food, social behavior and customary practices and manipulate the ethnic taste of marginalized communities.

In the absence of the visual folk art tradition, the Khasi community could not be more vulnerable to rapid change and influences from outside forces. Nevertheless, Khasi’s dynamic ethnic folklore offers a vast field of visual expression, even against the onslaught of modern civilization, digital technology and contemporary art, even as the postmodern concept rejuvenates the essence ethnic art. In modern civilization, digital information technology has revolutionized the entire political, social and cultural sphere with both positive and negative impacts on art. On the one hand, digital technology has simplified and improved the application of art, while on the other hand, it has made many artists and pseudo-artists dependent on the facilities provided by digital technology. The distinction between art, science or commerce has become difficult to separate, due to the interdependence with each other as real passion and creativity are mastered by the vitality of luxurious advanced technology and sophisticated. The emergence and supremacy of art galleries in determining the credibility of artists has further compounded the disadvantages for simple artists. However, in the northeast region of India, the role of curators and art galleries is limited due to lack of market potential. The outlook for art in the region, including Meghalaya, depends on individual artists and a few promoters. The usual demand from general consumers, including government institutions, is a realistic replica of the cultural and natural heritage of the people and the land. Although artists are reluctant to create such works, they are forced to meet customer demand, and independent contemporary works of art are kept for occasional exhibitions, while the clientele is limited to a few select connoisseurs.

In particular, the motivation for visual exercises and applications in Meghalaya and the city of Shillong was generated by the Western popular culture of comic books and Hollywood films. Western cowboy comics and war stories from World Wars I and II have wide reach even in rural areas, while Western films were confined to urban dwellers. The other visual culture prevalent before the emergence of television is the film broadcasts of Christian gospel and biblical stories by Roman Catholic missionaries throughout the length and breadth of the ancient composite state of Assam, in particularly the Khasi and Jaintia Hills, Garo Hills, Nagaland, Mizoram and parts of the former North East Frontier Agency or Arunachal Pradesh and some pockets of Tripura, including areas dominated by the Bodo-inhabited tribes of Assam, Tiwa, Lalung, Karbi, Kachari, Rabha, Koch and the Kuki in parts of Manipur. Many budding artists of yesteryear are heavily influenced by Phantom, Flash Gordon, Superman, Batman, Lone Ranger, Roy Rogers and Tonto, Davy Crocket, Axa, Modesty Blaise, Walt Disney characters, Asterix cartoons, adventures of TinTin, Popeye the Sailor, Robin Hood, Hans Anderson, Red Indian icons and many European and American heroes from Marvel comics lore. Movie heroes and heroines like John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, Gregory Peck, Charles Bronson, Steve McQueen, Anthony Quint, Marylin Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, Sophia Loren and others, comedians Laurel and Hardy, Charlie Chaplin, Bob Hope la music from bands and icons like Elvis Presley, The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Queen, The Rolling Stones, Cliff Richards, Glen Campbell, Perry Como, Bob Dylan and many more; also country singers like Kenny Rogers, Charlie Pride, Dolly Parton and others; legendary superheroes like James Bond, Billy the Kid and urban cowboy like John Travolta, Scott Glen and even Bud Spencer and Terence Hill. They are all legendary celebrities who have set trends in fashion, entertainment and music, and who have influenced personal behavior and human values ​​apart from the reproduction of visual images in various media. It was the old trend of yore, and nowadays there is an extravagant bombardment of the Internet and other forms of digital information technology available at the palm of every individual’s hand, young and old.

Western culture, especially America, has become the iconic entity of global consumption and there is a decline in the creative and original products of the current generation of artists because technology could be realized with precision in all aspects of the visual application. Fortunately, there are art institutions and various cultural organizations that are rising to challenges to counter the undue influence of digital technology and are instrumental in conveying the true essence of art to motivate creativity, originality and creativity. ‘innovation to the next level, even if the general customer base is hungry for excellence and perfection of digital technology products. In this regard, the essence of art will be returned to the elite segment of society, with the general public driven away by superficial elements of the art market. It is the challenge for the artistic fraternity to face the contemporary situation and to reinvent and maintain the true essence of art. The other challenge concerns commercial art collectors and art galleries as they are the main instruments to facilitate the prevalence of quality art and at the same time they have to support the market. In this regard, the focus will be on the artist’s mark with excellence both in the quality of the work and in the current market demand. The political history of the region also has an impact on art throughout society. The onslaught of British colonial imperialism caused enormous changes in society and influenced various aspects of community affairs. British supremacy is overwhelmed by many things and the modern lifestyle has fascinated local people and become the mainstay for generations as most local cultural traditions have been eroded and replaced by improvised elements from foreign culture. As mentioned earlier, the Khasi culture is devoid of visual folk art, and spectacular European images of landscapes, royal monarchy and cityscapes, including Christian religious images, have become favorite novelties of every household. , especially in Anglo Khasi families. Throughout the ages, the specific practice of the visual arts among aspiring emerging artists in the region has been likely to depend on the facilities provided by modern industrial products and services. The ethnic components of each community are prominent in their artwork due to their vibrant folk art tradition; however, Khasi artists could neither derive from ethnic elements nor invent an image tradition of local taste. Consequently, the excellent European and Christian pictorial convention was easier to reproduce and prevail in the Khasi visual vocabulary. Initially, Naresh Tamang’s works were able to establish the Khasi ethnic vibe more than any other Khasi artist, even though they depicted local elements, there was a certain appeal to the Western atmosphere.

Perhaps Marius Maiñsing Shanpru, Mawkordor Sohtun and Raphael Warjri could imbibe local flavors to some extent in their works on Khasi culture. Otherwise, there are ethnic depictions of Khasi culture with a western and modern charm in some works of art by some Khasi artists. A few of the examples are the local ethnic items and properties incorporated into European housing designs, or the Gothic-style churches prevalent in the Khasi territories; a grizzly bear or Bengal tiger or arctic reindeer are incorporated into the Khasi hunting scenes; a vulgar pose of the European model is portrayed as the female Khasi ethnicity with some folk items; a modern muscular male figure is rendered as the ethnic warrior Khasi. Monolith, bow and arrows, sword and shield are the common Khasi folk images found in all visual applications related to local culture and tradition. Local designers have generally succumbed to the aspirations and demands of respective customers who are obsessed with these conventional images, even though they have claimed innovation.