A Sattriya dance troupe from Majuli river-island will perform an innovative dance drama in France and Switzerland based on the tales depicted on Vrindavani Vastra.

Vrindavani Vastra is a unique tapestry woven by skilled Assamese weavers in the sixteenth century under the supervision of the medieval Vaishnavite saint, social reformer and creative genius Srimanta Sankardeva and his chief disciple Madhavdeva. It depicts scenes from Krishna's childhood home of Vrindavan.

The ten-member dance troupe of bhakats (monks) of Uttar Kamalabari Sattra (a Vaishnavite monastery) of Majuli, led by noted Sattriya exponent and research scholar Bhabananda Barbayan, will give 22 performances — 12 in France and ten in Switzerland — from June 14 to July 15 based on this unique textile masterpiece that depicts the life of Krishna at Vrindavan.

“The dance drama has been conceptualised and choreographed on the tale on a piece of Vrindavani Vastra now preserved in Guimet, the national museum of Asian art in Paris,” Mr. Barbayan told journalists here on Monday. “The idea to choreograph a dance drama based on Vrindavani Vastra tales came to me on my first visit to the museum in Paris during a Europe tour for Sattriya dance recital in 2008. Later I had another opportunity to conduct a detailed study on pieces of the Vrindavani Vastra in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum of London. We have come to know that pieces of Vrindavani Vastra are now preserved in at least 16 museums outside India.”

Dr. Mallika Kandali, who has written a doctoral thesis, “The Sattriya and the Odissi Dances: A Comparative Study,” said this is the first time in India that a dance recital was choreographed on a woven textile masterpiece. “Indian classical dance forms have been choreographed on paintings and sculptures. However, we have not come across a dance recital choreographed on a woven textile masterpiece. The innovative dance recital will also establish that Vrindavani Vastra originated in Assam.”

She said that while other Indian classical dance forms were reconstructed through the revival of a tradition that no longer existed, Sattriya was a living tradition, practised, preserved and performed consistently in the Sattras of Assam.


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