Sunday, September 15, 2013

Paula Sengupta: The Flight of the Ducks

Pema’s Story or The Flight of the Ducks 

Pema Dhargyal is only one among over a hundred-and-twenty thousand Tibetan refugees in exile across the world that have fled their homeland in an effort to practice and conserve the Tibetan way of life. Severely threatened by the increasing Sinicization of the Tibet plateau, the immensely rich religion, language, culture, heritage, and unique habitat of this peace-loving people today faces extinction. Perhaps its last unthreatened traditional bastions remain in the Indian Himalayas, and in settlements in Bhutan and Nepal, while a Tibetan Government-in-Exile struggles to cohesively function from a hilltop called McLeodgunj in India.           

The Tibet plateau and the contiguous high altitude plateaus of the Indian and Nepal Himalayas lie on the flight path of the migratory Brahminy or Ruddy Shell ducks. The glacial lakes of these regions are home to this endangered species in the summer months where they mysteriously dwell in solitary pairs in the icy waters, giving birth to their young before flying further afield.

An integral participant in the fragile ecosystem that sustains these freezing plateaus, the Brahminy duck is today as threatened by shifting political and cultural agenda in the region as is the larger habitat, wild life, and indigenous human population of the Tibet plateau. 

Pema’s Story or The Flight of the Ducks is a multi-layered narrative in the tradition of animal tales from the region that draws a parallel between the flight of the endangered Brahminy ducks and that of the Tibetan refugees. The work consists of eight panels, each traditionally designed as an interactive wooden box with a sliding lid carved with the eight Tibetan lucky signs intimate with the life and teachings of the Buddha.

Title:              Pema’s Story or The Flight of the Ducks
                        (Set of 8)
Medium:         Etching & serigraphy on paper, serigraphy on acrylic sheet, and hand-cut   wooden box
Size:                17.25” X 27.75” each

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