The untamed beauty of the Himalayas immediately captures our collective imagination with visions of serenity, natural splendour and mysticism. But these mountains also dictate the lives of those who live by its laws—the resilient hill dwellers, or paharis, whose work and lives are shaped by their surroundings.
In the Shadow of the Devi: Kumaon details the legacy of a land, a people and a craft deeply intertwined with its environment. Manju Kak looks at this enigmatic land of Kumaon through the prism of woodcraft, unique in its aesthetic in this part of India, documenting the styles, influences and techniques used by the craftsmen of Uttarakhand, as well as Kumaoni artisans’ worldview and beliefs. In addition, this book is an important document of the life of paharis, as it also discusses communities, forest policy and the status of women, analysing and unraveling facets of hill life that made the claim for statehood so unique.
The book is beautifully complemented with photographs by award-winning Kumaoni photographer Anup Sah, among others. It is also a visual delight for those who have an interest in the region. It adds to the existing knowledge on Uttarakhand, emblematic of other Indian hill states though its focus is on Kumaon, the land that lies in the majestic mountain Nanda Devi’s shadow, as the title suggests.
Manju Kak Is a writer, critic, scholar and artist, who, for two decades, through word, image, research or curatorial theme, has been intensely exploring some unique aspects of Himalayan life. It led her