Detail of Garoda scroll. Water colours on paper; 279 cm x 56 cm. Gujarat. c. mid-20th century. 88/5/D.

The Garodas are a community of traditional storytellers from Gujarat who are known not only for painting and narrating legends, but also for painting horoscopes for newly born children. Unlike the chitrakatha, or storytelling traditions from Bengal and Rajasthan, the painted scrolls of the Garodas depict many legends in a single scroll.

The picture scrolls, known as tipanu in Gujarati, meaning “recording” or “remark”, are usually more than 3 m long and 35 cm broad and generally depict the following scenes:

A shrine in the centre of which is a full vase topped by a coconut; two horsemen in profile representing the heroes Aldang and Ni clang; four-armed Ganesha, often accompanied by his wives Riddhi and Siddhi; Shiva, usually riding his vehicle the bull Nandi, often flanked by goddesses, one of whom holds a snake, or bow and arrow, and the other a scorpion; goddess Lakshmi; the local story of Dhana Baghat; two goddesses, one riding a tiger, the other a cock (local goddess Bahuchara), killing the buffalo demon; Krishna quelling the snake king Kaliya; the Shravana episode from the Ramayana, depicting Dasharatha aiming his arrow at the youth carrying his blind parents seated on planks suspended from a pole slung across his shoulders; Rama and Lakshmana aiming at a two-headed deer, while Sita is sitting in a garden pavilion; two-armed Hanuman; ten-headed Ravana; the story of the truthful king Harishchandra; the game amli-pipli played between the Pandavas and Kauravas, wherein an over-sized figure of Bhima, with half his body in red and the other half in silver, is shaking the tree; the legend of Chelaiyyo, popular in Gujarat; Ramdev Pir of Ranuja, one of the deified heroes of Rajasthan, depicted by his footprints, his horse and his bride Netal; and finally the various punishments in hell and rewards in heaven. The detail here depicts the game of amli-pipli.

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