ARPO Earthlore is a flagship programme started by ARPO in 2021, dedicated to duly representing and documenting tribal traditions.
Tribal culture in India is on the fringes today due to generations of encroachment of land and the disruption of local traditions that have deep ecological ties.
Our mission is to engage with tribal communities, document the various aspects and disseminate the wisdom contained in their lore, craft, and living traditions in responsible and creative ways. Through our engagement, we hope that these cultural traditions - visual, material, and oral - come into broader awareness, scholarship, and conservation through active engagement.
Our interest areas include:
Music traditions, language, visual culture, food traditions, agricultural practices, livelihoods, festivals, and cultural practices.
We believe mere documentation of traditions may not be enough, rather we try to foster connections between the communities and spaces beyond their regional spheres, to help create better cultural perspectives andenter not only cultural circuits but more importantly enter the financial economy through their craft.
Gather first-hand knowledge by interacting with the communities.
Organizing audio- visual documentation.
Two-way outreach by creating collaborations to exchange knowledge, facilitate programmes to introduce professional opportunities and ways to further one's own craft.
Undertake creative productions.
Conduct events and workshops.
Ensure fair benefit-sharing.
Irular & Kattunaykkar
Our pilot project was an engagement with the music traditions of the Irula tribe of Attappady, in the Kerala-Tamil Nadu border and the Kattunaykkar tribe of Wayanad in Northern Kerala. Much of their heritage is passed on through vai mozhi (oral transmission) and is now at the risk of disappearing.
ARPO facilitated the association of the tribal musicians with professional musicians Charu Hariharan, and Sreekanth Hariharan, and sound engineer Vishnu MN and Aadi, who undertook the challenging task of recording their songs in high quality audio formats for digital archiving and for producing music tracks.
Over the course of three months, we made multiple visits to these communities, recording song performances and interviews, and establishing a deep personal connection with the community along the way.
The initiative was supported by Experion Technologies, a multinational IT company. The first season of Earthlore culminated with a music fest on May 28 and 29, 2022 at Kochi featuring all the musicians we associated with.