While having a conversation about female rulers or warriors in history, 20-year-old visual artist Tara Anand realised she didn’t have more than a couple of Indian names to contribute. That served as an impetus to highlight the brave warrior women from history through illustrations. “I’ve always held the belief that the female side of history is almost totally untold and a project like this is my small way of fixing that,” says Tara. She included forgotten heroes such as Rani Durgavati of Gondwana who valiantly fought the Moghuls, Mai Bhago, who led Sikh soldiers on the battlefield in a fight with Mughals, and Rani Chennamma, the queen of Kittur who led an armed rebellion against the British East India Company.
The illustrations went viral and caught the attention of Tulika Publishers, which has now launched a fun book for children with stories of these courageous women. A lot of research about the names to include in Warrior Women came from the internet but for information, Tara relied on history books. For the visual depictions, she turned to statues, old illustrations, and stamps. Tara, who did not have kids in mind while working on the project, tweaked her work to appeal to a younger audience.
Tara’s ongoing Instagram project (with visual artist Ellie Lee), I Am Like Other Girls, breaks stereotypes about women by subverting the idea of the phrase ‘I’m not like other girls’ being used as an insult. It encourages women to send in their personal statements and photographs, which Tara and team then illustrate. “Feminism is really central to my beliefs and the way I see the world. I think a female perspective is sorely lacking in most conversations and so I tend to lean more towards exploring female perspectives and experiences,” says Tara.
A post from I Am Like Other Girls.
Get your copy of Warrior Women here.
All photographs: courtesy Tulika Publishers