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Hills and Stones

A non-fiction graphic narrative telling the story of a Likhai craftsman Gangaramji. 

Gangaramji was rumored to be one of the last few Likhai craftsmen in Diyari, Uttarakhand. Likhai is the craft of carving patterns and motifs into Indian Mahogany wood in the state. Changing architectural patterns in the state have led to the decline in patronage for this craft. In 2014, while volunteering in Satoli, I met Dr. Indira Chowdhury and accompanied her on an oral history interview that she had conducted with him.


Later that year, I wrote a proposal for a bi-lingual graphic narrative about this experience. 'Hills and Stones' was published by Yoda Press in 2016 as a part of the non-fiction graphic anthology First Hand: Graphic Non-Fiction from India.

Meeting Gangaramji and listening to him share his life story was one of the most poignant moments of my life as a young adult. I felt compelled to focus my efforts, over the span of a few years, towards conveying his story to a wider audience. Gangaramji passed away in 2018. Now, looking back, I am solemnly amazed at all that emerged from those days in the hills. 


I wrote a paper critically analyzing my process of converting an oral history interview into a graphic story. Titled 'Graphic narratives from the hills: a woodcarving tradition in Uttarakhand, India' the paper was published in the autumn issue of the Oral History Society Journal (UK) in 2018.


The illustrations in the story are framed by a Likhai frame. 


A spread depicting a reference to Indian mythology and the trek up to Gangaramji's home.


A motif of a Mahogany tree.


Gangaramji, the recorder and Indira. 


Detail of a repetitive pattern of flowers, all done by hand.


Detail of a footnote in the story.

Close-ups of the detailing in the reproductions of Likhai patterns and a closeup of the hindi script.

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