Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Trees with stories

Everyone knows a few trees. However, usually we are unaware of the huge diversity of trees surrounding us. I found that Delhi zoo can be a good learning place about Indian trees. This photo-essay presents a few trees from the Delhi zoo which have stories behind them.

My interest in trees

I became interested in trees because of our dog Brando. Whenever I was at home, it was my responsibility to take him out for his morning and evening walks. Our house in Bologna (Italy) is close to a beautiful park. During the walks, while Brando sniffed and did the things that dogs are supposed to do during their walks, often I waited and looked around. Inevitably, I also looked at the trees. Slowly I realized that I hardly knew any of their names.

So I bought a book about trees. Then for a few months, every time I went out with Brando, I learned to identify a new tree. I observed the shapes, colours and number of the leaves and the way they were arranged, the quality and colour of the bark, their flowers, fruits and seeds. Now I can identify a lot of trees in that park.

A couple of years ago, when I was in the Delhi zoo to look at my favourite birds (the painted storks), I realized that most trees in the zoo carry little boards with their popular and botanical names. So I spent some time looking at the trees. This post presents some of those trees!

Names of the trees

All trees have botanical names (in Latin), composed of two words - often the first word is about the tree family and the second word is the name of the person who discovered it or name of the place where it was found, etc. If you want to search for information about a tree, knowing the botanical names makes it much easier. So let us start this journey!

Putranjeeva tree (Tree for a son's life): The botanical name of this tree is Drypetes roxburghii. The tree has round hard fruits. This tree is native of India and some other Asian countries. It was taken to Africa and now it grows in many parts of that continent. The round and hard seeds of the fruit can be used for making necklaces.

Indian trees - Putranjeeva, Delhi, India, images by Sunil Deepak, 2011

Another name for this tree is "Indian amulet tree". I don't know if this means that mothers make amulets from its seeds or the name denotes that it is useful to cure illnesses. Its name also made me think of the Indian bias for sons - why did they not call it the tree for a daughter's life?

It is also called "Spurious wild olives tree" - probably this only means that the fruits look like olives but they are not. The tree itself does not look like an olive tree.

According to Ayurveda, a decoction of its leaves and fruits is useful for treating fevers, malaria and for liver problems.

Saptparna Tree (Seven leaves tree): The botanical name of this tree is Alstonia scholaris. The name of the tree refers to the leaves that form flower like whorls in usually in groups of 7 leaves (can vary from 4 to10).

Indian trees - Saptparna, Delhi, India, images by Sunil Deepak, 2011

When I saw the name of this tree I was reminded of a Bengali fairytale I had heard in my childhood - about seven princes who were killed by the stepmother and who became champa trees. When ever the stepmother wanted to hurt their sister, the princess, her brothers in the champa trees warned her, "Saat bhai champa jago re, jago re" (Seven brothers of Champa, wake up, wake up).

In English they call it the Indian Devil Tree. Normally, solitary and secluded trees are considered the trees possessed by the devil and if you sleep near them, it is said that they can steal your soul. However, I find the Indian name of this tree completely incompatible with the English name - almost as if we are speaking of two completely different trees.

Another name of this tree is "Indian blackboard tree". Does it mean that it's wood was used for making blackboards in the villages? Is it because of the black coloured boards that the British started calling it the Indian Devil tree?

According to Ayurveda, it is used for treating skin diseases, malaria, diarrhea, snake-bite and for punchkarma purification.

Kanak champa tree (wheat flowers tree): The botanical name of this tree is Pterospermum acerifolium and in English they call it the Dinner-plate tree. I think that the British must have seen the Indians putting together 2-3 leaves and making organic plates out of them.

Indian trees - Kanakchampa, Delhi, India, images by Sunil Deepak, 2011

There was a time when we use to get most of the roadside food (Tikki, Golgappas, chole-bhature) in India in such organic plates, though now, most roadside shops in Delhi seem to use plastic plates. Obviously using plastic means creating plastic waste that damages our environment, but I wonder if destroying trees by excessive use of their leaves for making plates would be a less damaging alternative? What do you think?

It name Pterospermum refers to its Maple (Acer) like winged seeds. It is also called Maple-leafed Bayur tree though I must say that its leaves do not seem to be like the maple tree!

According to Ayurveda, its leaves and flowers are good for treating inflammation, ulcers, blood problems and even tumours. Flower extracts are also useful as insect repellent.

Chir (Pine): The botanical name of this tree is Pinus Roxburghii and it is one of the common Pine trees in the Himalayas. I found its name special because it reminded me of the Nirmal Varma's Hindi book Chiron par Chandani (Moonlight on pines).

Indian trees - Chir, Delhi, India, images by Sunil Deepak, 2011

If burnt, sometimes the resin in its wood solidifies into a hard translucent material that does not get wet and is useful for starting fire. In Garhwal they call this hard colourful resin as Jhukti. It burns for a long time so if you are travelling in the hills, it could be useful to keep some Jhukti with you.

Bel (Creeper) or Shree Phal (Fruit of divine light): The botanical name of this tree is Aegle marmelos. In English they call it Stone Apple or Wood Apple, because of the tough exterior of its fruit. The leaves of this tree are necessary for two kinds of swallowtail butterflies. The leaves are also good for human consumption.

Indian trees - Bel, Delhi, India, images by Sunil Deepak, 2011

The fruit-pulp is very aromatic and the juice is tangy and astringent. It is used for making sherbets such as Bela Pana. The fruit takes almost a year to get matured on the tree. According to Ayurveda, this fruit has different medicinal uses including for gynaecological problems, urinary problems, liver problems, etc.

For Hindus it ia sacred tree because it is the tree of Shiva and the fruit is used for prayers in Shiva temples. The trifolate leaves are considered as symbols of Shiva's trident.

Among the Newari famlies in Nepal, there is a custom of marrying the girls to the Bel tree (Bel Baha).

Plaksa or Bhendi: It's Hindi name sounds like that of the vegetable, okra. Its botanical name is Thespesia Populnea. In English it is called the Indian Tulip tree or Portia tree. In Sri Lanka they call it Suriya (sun).

Indian trees - Indian tulip tree, Delhi, India, images by Sunil Deepak, 2011

It is important because of its wood that is greatly appreciated for making furniture and musical instruments.

Makhan Katori (Butter bowl) or Krishna badh (Krishna's fig): The botanical name of this tree is Ficus krishnae. It belongs to the Ficus (fig) family of trees which is very popular in India specially as the Ficus religiosa (Pepal tree or sacred fig), under which Buddha had attained illumination.

Indian trees - Makhan Katori, Delhi, India, images by Sunil Deepak, 2011

Compared to Pepal tree, the leaves of Makhan Katori seem darker and thicker. Their unique feature is that they have a pocket like structure at the base. It grows into a large tree.

There is a story associated with this tree -when god Krishna was a baby, he was very fond of butter and often stole it. Once when his mother Yashoda caught him stealing, he tried to hide it by rolling it in a leaf of Makhan Katori. Since then, the leaves of these trees have a folded shape at the base.

Kadamba: There is some confusion about the botanical name of this plant. Its name plate in Delhi zoo called it Anthocephalus chienensis but Wikipedia says that its correct name is Noelamarckia cadamba. It is loved for its round ball like sweet smelling flowers that can be orange or yellow. These flowers are used for making traditional Indian perfumes including Attar.

Indian trees - Kadamba, Delhi, India, images by Sunil Deepak, 2011

The leaves of this tree are necessary for the larvae of brushfeet butterfly. Its wood is used for making plywood, paper pulp, simple canoes, etc. The extract of its leaves can cure intestinal parasites.

The Kadamba tree is part of different mythological stories in the north and south of India. Kadamba is mentioned in the Bhagavata Purana. In Northern India, it is associated with Krishna - Radha and Krishna are supposed to have conducted their love play in the hospitable and sweet-scented shade of the Kadamba tree. In the south it is known as "Parvathi’s tree".

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So I hope that you have liked this brief journey with some trees. The next time you look out of yur window or you go out for a walk in the park, ask yourself if you know the names of the trees you see!

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Monday, February 24, 2014

Ancient Indian History in Puranas

Ancient Indians had written tomes on themes like grammar, yoga, medicine and sexuality. Yet, they did not leave any significant text about ancient history. This post is about notions of history in old Sanskrit texts called Puranas (पुराण). It is based on a 1959 book by Rangey Raghav.

Graphic Ancient Indian History by Sunil Deepak, 2014

The Puranic stories can also be analysed to understand many aspects of ancient Indian life such as the role of women in their society, relationships of dominant groups with other ethnic groups and their caste relationships especially in terms of subjugation of shudra caste groups. However, in this post, my focus is on ancient history of India.

Introduction

Rangey Raghav, originally from Andhra Pradesh, was only 39 years old when he had died in 1962. In his short life he had written about 25 Hindi books including a novel on the Indus valley civilization ("Murdoon ka tila" - or the "Mound of the dead") in 1948.

His book "Pracheen Brahmin Kahaniyan" (Ancient Brahmin Tales) was published by Kitab Mahel publishers in Allahabad in 1959. It was one of my favourite childhood books. Years later, when we were forced to give away the collection of our Hindi books for lack of space, I had kept this book with me.

In this book, based upon Puranas, Rangey Raghav had described the major ancient stories. Recently, I read this book again after decades and it made me reflect on the nature of ancient historical understandings. This post shares some of those reflections.

Puranas

Ancient Indian thoughts, philosophy and understanding of the world, dating back to about 2500-500 BC, was distributed mainly in three kinds of texts - Vedas, Upanishads and Puranas.

According to Wikipedia, there are 19 Puranas and these can be classified into 3 groups depending upon the main deity (Vishnu, Brahma and Shiva) to whom they are dedicated. The oldest Puranas like Linga purana, Kurma purana, Vamana purana and Brahmand purana date back to about 900 to 800 BC.  Before that period, India had oral traditions of transmitting knowledge and thus, these stories probably go back to earlier times.

The Puranas are supposed to provide five kinds of stories - about the creation of the universe, its recreation after destruction, the genealogies of gods and sages, histories of major dynasties of rulers and the Manavantaras (periods of the first human beings).

Stories in "Pracheen Brahmin Kahaniyan"

Raghav's book has 71 stories. They start with the story of creation of the planets and the first human being called Vaivasvat Manu. They touch on some of the well known mythological stories such as Prahlad and Narsimha, the truth-speaking king Harishchandra, Bhagirath and the descent of river Ganges. The last 25 stories of this book relate to Mahabharata.

Some of the stories in this book, hardly have any story and are mainly lists of descendants of illustrious kings or gods.

Sun and Consciousness - Surya and Sanghya story

The story of Surya and his wife Sanghya is one of the most beautiful story in this book. It is about the creation of the universe. I feel that in symbolic terms, this story explains parts of the creation in a way which is surprisingly close to our scientific understanding today.

In this story, Sanghya (Consciousness) is the daughter of Vishwakarma (literally "creator of the world" or Brahma) and is married to Surya (Sun). Sanghya could not look at her husband because his light was very strong so when he came near her, she closed her eyes. Surya was angry with his wife because he thought she did not like him. They had 2 sons (Vaivasvat and Yama) and a daughter, Yamuna. Unable to stay near her husband, one day Sanghya created a body double (Chaya or Shadow) and went back to her father's house.

Surya had two sons and a daughter with Chaya, before he found out that the woman living with him was not his wife but her body double. He went to look for his wife. When he understood why Sanghya had left him, he asked Vishwakarma to help in reducing his light by dividing him in 16 parts. One of the parts was still Surya, while other 15 parts were used to create planets and other godly objects. As his light was reduced, Sanghya could finally live with him.

Sanghya's eldest son, Vaivasvat Manu was the 7th Manu. Her second son, Yama, was the god of death. Her daughter, Yamuna was the river. Her other two sons, Ashwini Kumar, were doctors of the gods.

Chaya's first son Sampurnik, was the 8th Manu. Her second son, Shanichar became the planet Shani (Saturn). Her daughter Tapati gave rise to the Kuru dynasty.

The basic idea of this story that consciousness could not live with the Sun because he had too much light (and heat) and could only live with him, when he lost part of that light by making different planets, I find it fascinating.

Organisation of human societies in Purana stories

The Puranas stories in the book present an organisational structure of gods-and-humans society, though they do not explain their different roles and responsibilities. These structures include -
  • Manu - The time was organised in Manavantars (epochs of Manu) and each epoch had its own Manu or the first man - Autam was the 3rd Manu (Manu of the 3rd epoch of Manvantaras); Anand, a Rakshas, was 6th Manu and was also known as Chakshus; Vaivasvat was the 7th Manu; Sampurnik was the 8th Manu; Sanamik, son of Daksha, was the 9th Manu; Brahmasavarini was the 10th Manu; Dharmasavarini son of Dhanura was the 11th Manu; Savarini, son of Rudra, was the 12th Manu; Rochya was the 13th Manu; Bhosya, son of Bhuti muni was the 14th Manu; some other Manus mentioned in the book include Swayambhu manu (son of Brahma), Tamas and Raiwat. All the Manus or the first men, had male names. Different stories mention the names of kings during the period of the Manus, thus, "Manu" did not mean a king. What was their role in the society is not clear.
  • Each story about a Manu mentions some of his office-bearers - some Devagana (literally "Persons of gods" or minor gods), an Indra (lord of the gods), and a Sapta-Rishi (literally the "seven sages"). Stories also provide names of the children of each Manu. The title of Manu does not seem to be hereditary. Persons in the roles of Devagana, Indra and Sapta-Rishi seem to be nominations. For example, a person could become Indra because of he was "being good", "being courageous" or because "he did 100 yagnas".
  • The stories mention genealogies of kings' families or sometimes sages' families. Usually the genelogies in this book are limited to the names of first sons. Sometimes names of daughters are mentioned if their children play an important role as future kings. For example, the story of the genealogy of Swayambhu Manu starts by saying that Brahma created the gods, mountains, etc. and then created 9 humans - Bhrigu, Pulsatya, Pulah, Kritu, Angira, Marichi, Daksh, Atri and Vashishth. Then Rudra was born from Brahma's anger. Then he made ordinary human beings, both men and women, of different colours and shapes. Finally Swayambhu Manu was born, who was appointed by Brahma to be the protector of people. Manu was married to Shatrupa (literally "a hundred forms") and they had 2 sons (Priyavrat and Uttanpad) and 2 daughters (Akuti and Prasuti).
Considerations about understanding history from Puranas stories

It is difficult to make a chronological or historical sense of events from the Puranas stories. The stories mix actual people, especially kings and warriors, with persons who occupied mythological-sounding positions and with mythical figures.

For example, the word, Sapta-Rishi is used for the seven stars that form Ursa Major. Using this term for a set of persons in Puranas stories can mean that the kings or Manu were suppose to have a group of seven sages to advice them or to oversee the religious rites. Thus, the Sapta-Rishi of these stories were not stars, but persons who received a title.

On the other hand, the stories of Surya, Yama, Yamuna along with children of Vaivasvat Manu, seem to be creation myths and not the history of actual persons.

Ancient Indians used logic and had the capacity to categorize and analyse knowledge. Thus, Panini could work on Sanskrit grammar in a way that is understandable to linguistic experts even today. Or Vatsyayan could work on the theme of sexuality, that can be understood scientifically even today. Even esoteric subjects like meditation, yoga and the nature of human soul, were looked at in logical terms, analysed and discussed. Then, why those ancient Indians, did not use that kind of logic for writing history? Why did they make a mish-mash of actual events with mythological stories?

Perhaps for ancient Indians, the worlds of gods and spirits were as real as their daily physical world, because that was the only way they could make a sense out of the events? Thus their ideas of history were impossible to separate from these fantasy worlds? Perhaps it had something to do with Indian concept of time as being cyclical (and not linear), where worlds were created and destroyed in cycles,and thus history was understood differently?

Could Indian ideas about time have been influenced by the fact that for ordinary persons, there was no concept of short time periods like weeks but rather the time was measured in terms of religious festivals linked to astrology, moon and planets?

Looking at the names of the week-days in Hindi, these seem to be translations from English or Latin, and thus were not indigenous to India. The importance of "week" arose among Jews who had fixed one day of Sabbath (Saturday) for not working and for prayers. Christianity, to distinguish itself from the Jews, selected Sunday as its Sabbath day, while Muslims, who came next, chose Friday as their weekly prayer day.

Did this kind of weekly organisation of time influence the development of human thinking about linear time in the middle east and then in countries following Abrahmic religions? Similar understanding of linear time came later to India with persons coming from Middle-east and thus, we did not develop a linear understanding of time and documenting of history till relatively recently?

I do not know if the writings of later Indian writers like Kalidasa (about 5 century AD) reflect a linear understanding of history. Normally understanding of ancient history is a triangulation of findings from archaeological excavations, paintings/art and ancient texts. Puranas do not seem to be reliable chronicles of history. So, which were the first indigenous Indian texts about history?

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Saturday, February 22, 2014

Trampolieri - the fabulous sky-walkers of Bologna (2)

This photo-essay is the second part of a homage to the "Trampolieri", the stilt-walkers of Bologna (Italy). They use wonderful creativity and imagination to choose new styles, costumes and colours for each of their public appearances. While the first part looked at their costumes and colours in the period 2005-2011, this second part is about the period 2012-13.

I Trampolieri, the stilt-walkers of Bologna - images by Sunil Deepak, 2012-13

2012

At the Bologna Gay pride parade, I had reached early as I was supposed to meet someone. That gave the opportunity to see the Trampolieri getting ready with their make-up and costumes. Their make-up included putting body paint in different colours. This offered numerous opportunities for taking very striking pictures. In fact, I really love these images.

I Trampolieri, the stilt-walkers of Bologna - images by Sunil Deepak, 2012-13

My favourite was the lady in blue who made me think of Shiva!

I Trampolieri, the stilt-walkers of Bologna - images by Sunil Deepak, 2012-13

I Trampolieri, the stilt-walkers of Bologna - images by Sunil Deepak, 2012-13

I Trampolieri, the stilt-walkers of Bologna - images by Sunil Deepak, 2012-13

A small group of Trampolieri were also playing with gender and identity issues. I was really struck by the women with moustaches, who seem to underline how gender identities are constructed. At the same time, it made me think of "Didi tera devar diwana" kind of situations in Indian marriages, where girls dress up as boys during the women's music ceremonies.

I Trampolieri, the stilt-walkers of Bologna - images by Sunil Deepak, 2012-13

I ended up taking hundreds of pictures that day and it was an unforgettable experience. Looking at these pictures brings back that feeling of joy.

I Trampolieri, the stilt-walkers of Bologna - images by Sunil Deepak, 2012-13

2013

Based on my experience at the Gay Pride 2012, when I heard about the Gay pride 2013, I immedietly imagined repeating the experience and the reached venue much in advance to catch the "getting-ready" part of the Trampolieri stilt walkers.

The initial make-up images were fun, though I was missing the strong colours of 2012.

I Trampolieri, the stilt-walkers of Bologna - images by Sunil Deepak, 2012-13

I Trampolieri, the stilt-walkers of Bologna - images by Sunil Deepak, 2012-13

I Trampolieri, the stilt-walkers of Bologna - images by Sunil Deepak, 2012-13

I Trampolieri, the stilt-walkers of Bologna - images by Sunil Deepak, 2012-13

I Trampolieri, the stilt-walkers of Bologna - images by Sunil Deepak, 2012-13

After putting on the make-up, the Trampolieri covered their faces with colourful clothes, through which you could see only their eyes and lips. They made me feel a little uneasy and I think that they conveyed very effectively the feelings of persons who are forced to hide their true selves, to escape the societal discrimination.

Usually in Gay Pride parades, many persons use masks to hide themselves. May be because masks are associated with happy festivals like carnivals or may be because, masks still retain the "being human" kind of feelings, they do not give me the feeling of unease. On the other hand, those faces covered with clothes, did convey a feeling of imprisonment.

The Trampolieri explained that they had chosen that particular style to express solidarity with Pussy Riot who were imprisoned at that time.

I Trampolieri, the stilt-walkers of Bologna - images by Sunil Deepak, 2012-13

I Trampolieri, the stilt-walkers of Bologna - images by Sunil Deepak, 2012-13

They also had chains criss-crossing over their bodies, which increased the feelings of unease.

I Trampolieri, the stilt-walkers of Bologna - images by Sunil Deepak, 2012-13

In the end, the Trampolieri were equally colourful in this occasion, but rather than joy, this time, their costumes transmitted pain and fear.

I Trampolieri, the stilt-walkers of Bologna - images by Sunil Deepak, 2012-13

In 2013 there was a second opportunity to see the Trampolieri in action - the biannual summer festival Par Tot parade. For a change it was held in one of the peripheral areas of the city called Pilastro.

Obviously, this time, I was there well in advance, to catch their make-up and getting ready.

I Trampolieri, the stilt-walkers of Bologna - images by Sunil Deepak, 2012-13

I Trampolieri, the stilt-walkers of Bologna - images by Sunil Deepak, 2012-13

This time, they had again decided on body colours - all the team had their bodies and heads covered with white colour with a few small designs in red or black. Some persons had white flowers, others had silver or black coloured necklaces or bracelets.

I Trampolieri, the stilt-walkers of Bologna - images by Sunil Deepak, 2012-13

I Trampolieri, the stilt-walkers of Bologna - images by Sunil Deepak, 2012-13

I Trampolieri, the stilt-walkers of Bologna - images by Sunil Deepak, 2012-13

I Trampolieri, the stilt-walkers of Bologna - images by Sunil Deepak, 2012-13

The two team leaders, one man and one woman, were covered entirely with deep red. These colours made for very striking visuals.

I Trampolieri, the stilt-walkers of Bologna - images by Sunil Deepak, 2012-13

I Trampolieri, the stilt-walkers of Bologna - images by Sunil Deepak, 2012-13

This brings to end my photographic homage to The Trampolieri, the stilt-walker group of Bologna. Watching them has given me a lot of pleasure and clicking their pictures has been wonderful. So, thank you and best wishes for continuing this tradition of new make-up, new styles and new costumes.

I Trampolieri, the stilt-walkers of Bologna - images by Sunil Deepak, 2012-13

I hope that this photo-essay will inspire people in other cities and other parts of the world, to think of starting something unusual, which can express your creativity in a different way so that you can carve a distinct artistic identity for your group.

You can check the Facebook page of Trampolieri of Bologna for more pictures and their other initiatives. If you missed the first part of this post that presented their costumes from the period 2005-2011, you can check it by clicking here.
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Thursday, February 20, 2014

Trampolieri - The Fabulous Sky-walkers of Bologna (1)

"Trampolieri" are the people who walk on stilts. Bologna (Italy) where I live, has a group of dedicated stilt-walkers who use wonderful creativity and imagination to choose new styles, costumes and colours for each of their public appearances.

This photo-essay is a homage to this group of people. It presents some of their pictures that I have clicked over the past 8 years. This first part of the post focusses on the period 2005-2011.

Trampolieri - stilt walkers of Bologna 2005-11, Images by Sunil Deepak

Let me start with some general information about stilt-walking. The art of stilt-walking goes back a long time. There is a mention of stilt-walking in ancient Greek texts, more than two thousand years old. When I was a child, once I had seen a tribal group do a dance on stilts in India. People living in marshy areas build their houses on stilts and sometimes use stilts to cross marshy-watery places. So stilt walking is common to many countries and cultures.

There are different kinds of stilts. You can read more about them on Wikipedia.

In the image below you can see the stilts used by the Bologna group of stilt-walkers - these are made of sturdy wood. A wooden flat piece is fixed to the sole of the shoes, which is then fixed to a wooden piece on the top of the stilt. It requires a good sense of balance and lot of practice to do stilt-walking safely.

Trampolieri - stilt walkers of Bologna 2005-11, Images by Sunil Deepak

2005

I saw the the Trampolieri of Bologna for the first time at the preparation of the summer festival parade (Par Tot parade) in Villa Angeletti park in 2005. I was not too impressed by them. They had a pale hooded dress with black designs on their faces and bodies.

Clicking their pictures while they were moving on stilts was difficult as they were moving quickly and probaly I was standing too close to them. Here are two pictures from that first encounter in 2005.

Trampolieri - stilt walkers of Bologna 2005-11, Images by Sunil Deepak

Trampolieri - stilt walkers of Bologna 2005-11, Images by Sunil Deepak

2006

In 2006 I saw them at the summer rave party. Rave parties are about losing inhibitions, dancing, drinking, and making a lot of noise. It also means getting stoned by smoking weed or taking stronger drugs. In that occasion, the costume of the Trampolieri was simple and in line with the spirit of the rave party. Once again, I was not too impressed with them, though they seemed to be having a good time and enjoying themselves.

Trampolieri - stilt walkers of Bologna 2005-11, Images by Sunil Deepak

Trampolieri - stilt walkers of Bologna 2005-11, Images by Sunil Deepak

2007

The summer festival preparations of the Par Tot parade at Villa Angeletti park in 2007 was the first time that I looked at the Trampolieri with more attention. They had a colourful look. Some people had painted their bodies in gold, some with white and red and some others with red and blue or red and yellow. The costumes had red, purple and black with blue-yellow hats. Thus, in 2007 I clicked a lot of their pictures and started recognising them as a group.

Trampolieri - stilt walkers of Bologna 2005-11, Images by Sunil Deepak

Trampolieri - stilt walkers of Bologna 2005-11, Images by Sunil Deepak

Trampolieri - stilt walkers of Bologna 2005-11, Images by Sunil Deepak

Trampolieri - stilt walkers of Bologna 2005-11, Images by Sunil Deepak

2008

In 2008, I had a glimpse of the Trampolieri at the Bologna GLBTIQ (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transexual, Intersexual, Queer) pride parade. It was very crowded and noisy, and I could only see them a from a distance. So not many pictures came from this encounter. My favourites in this occasion was a young couple in blue.


Trampolieri - stilt walkers of Bologna 2005-11, Images by Sunil Deepak

Trampolieri - stilt walkers of Bologna 2005-11, Images by Sunil Deepak

2011

I didn't find any good images of Trampolieri in my image archives from 2009 and 2010, and I only found them again in 2011. At the Par Tot parade in the summer festival at the Piazza Maggiore of Bologna, the Trampolieri were present in two main groups. The first group was part of people dressed as giant insects, like the two guys dressed as black spiders shown in the images below.


Trampolieri - stilt walkers of Bologna 2005-11, Images by Sunil Deepak

Trampolieri - stilt walkers of Bologna 2005-11, Images by Sunil Deepak

The second and more numerous group was that of devils and angry spirits, like the followers of Shiva, in different colours and shapes. They were all closed in a prison of a white chain linked to a wooden pole held by the lead couple. Though they were trying to be scary, I think that they looked nice - in my opinion, it was their best look so far. The quality of their body make-up and costumes had improved.

Trampolieri - stilt walkers of Bologna 2005-11, Images by Sunil Deepak

Trampolieri - stilt walkers of Bologna 2005-11, Images by Sunil Deepak

Trampolieri - stilt walkers of Bologna 2005-11, Images by Sunil Deepak

Conclusion

I hope that you have liked this brief introduction to the Trampolieri stilt walkers of Bologna.

To close this post, the last image is from the 2007 Par Tot summer festival parade, of a girl dressed as the sun.

Trampolieri - stilt walkers of Bologna 2005-11, Images by Sunil Deepak

You can check the Facebook page of the Trampolieri of Bologna for more pictures and to know about their other initiatives. You can also read the second part of this post that presents their costumes from 2012 and 2013.
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