Known as the “hill people,” the Gonds are one of South Asia’s largest tribal groups. Spread out across the hills and forests of the Deccan Plateau region of central India, the Gonds have unique traditions of painting, pottery, and other arts. Their paintings often reflect nature, especially the sacred Saja tree that serves as the focal point for their life stories. Given the insularity of most Gond communities, their work is rarely exposed to larger audiences. Akshata commissioned five Gond artists to create paintings, which were then turned into patterns by the well-known textile artist Suki Cheema.

Ganjifa are playing cards used in a game that thrived in India from the 16th through the 18th centures. The cards are usually circular in shape and hand-painted to represent a variety of subjects. Typical images include kings and queens, gods and goddesses, animals, influential members of the court, etc. We have worked with Mr. Gurupada, one of the best Ganjifa artists in India and a key figure in preserving and innovating the art form, to identify key images and motifs from centuries-old cards. The textile artist Suki Cheema used the most striking and distinct of these images to create unique patterns for exclusive use by AKSHATA.