My association with the ethnomusicology archive provides me with immense pleasure to deal with some of the finest narrative traditions of India. One of those is the Kavad tradition. I dealt with the Kavad narrator/storyteller for several programs held in my previous work sphere.
Kavad is an oral narrative/storytelling tradition of Rajasthan, India. It is a portable wooden shrine, painted with various themes, especially from the oral epics-Ramayan and Mahabharat. The storyteller unfolds the multiple panels of the wooden shrine and narrates or sing the story depicted on the shrine. Though the stories are connected to Ramayan or Mahabharat, yet interesting part is the adaptation of local elements into those oral epics. It is believed to be approximately 400 years old tradition.
This miniature Kavad (in the pic) I had received as a gift from a Kavad narrator of Bassi district of Rajasthan. He painted this Kavad depicting the stories from ‘Krishna Leela’. I fondly remember him unfolding the story while narrating/singing with it.