Searching for inspiration. Travel books: Sonepur, India


A trip around the world

"Our World is coloured with a lot of friends that we do not know but that we recognize every day in the tracks of millions of small signs left on the face of people to disclose perfect shapes of light and colour".

This initiative, that has been carried on during the years, has the function to show the art of make up in different shapes and possible meanings. Make-up is an art old like man generation and it is still used, not only in everyday make-up, but also as 'transformation' of the person.
Since 2001, in 'Travel books' the research is proposed with different photos, similar to small reportages, that fix on the paper scenes and events.

Mela of Sonepur, India

Painting and decorating animals is a common use in pastoral and farm tradition also in West countries. It’s a way to propitiate the generous Nature and to thank the Holy Protector.

In East countries this becomes a very important event as the animals to paint and to dress are some of the most imposing and magnificent: Elephants. Mela (Fair in Hindi) of Sonepur is the biggest animal market of India and probably also of the World.  Here we buy and sell working animals as horses, buffalos, elephants and zebus.  Mela of Sonepur reminiscence has a long history. The first European travellers that speak about that come from the XVI century. Mr Wilson in “Bihar Memories” dated 1852 says that at Mela we could buy not only animals but also the same products sold in Manchester or in Delhi. Rich English planters always took part to this fair equipping magnificent camps with all the comfort of their time 

Sonepur village has a triangular shape where the sides are three powerful rivers: Ganges, Gandak and  hara. The fair takes place on the right side of Gandak. Day after day the preparations for Mela make the quiet  fluvial landscape an endless camp of men and animals. The position of the different tents answers to the fantastic harmony established between Man and Nature during the years. Elephants are 100 metres far  from Gandak bank when they go bathe once a day. An expanse of mango trees protects them from the Sun and their leafs are a delicious forage. Among the canes of a wet bamboo wood in the shade, buffalos find their home. They are also quite closed to water. Horses are placed in a wood of big thin trees with large spaces where they can improvise races. Zebù are in the less dry and shaded place.

After crossing Mahatma Gandhi bridge that links Patna City to Sonepur Village you will be on the other bank closed to Haathi Bazaar, the elephant market, the most important part of Mela. Mahauts, elephants’ guardians, did their best in order to make their animals the most beautiful. They started acting as Make-up artists, but in that case the brushes do not operate on tender cheeks of young ladies nor on dreaming eyes, but on rough skin shrivelled from bad weather, they remake the contour of eyes big as melons, they hide the marks of whip hits and they draw attention on proboscides and on too big ears. Sometimes, silk festoons hang down from fangs or a bronze belt is bound to the neck, they have ankle bands and harness bells and also an elegant saddle-cloth that comes down from the back draping the beast. Women groups in their showy sari and children dressed with an elegant dress invade Haathi bazaar and crouched around these big animals, they blink the eyes in a way that even Las Vegas couldn’t make them moving like that. They stay around the elephants to take out fortune and wellness from these giants. Elephants are holy animals, which are respected and appreciated.

They are bearers of good auspices and bring fortune. All this happened in the full moon of November 1995.
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