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The Night Life of Trees Hardcover – June 1, 2006

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Tara Publishing, a commune of artists, writers and designers producing handmade books in Chennai (formerly Madras), India, have created a glowingly mysterious and charming volume that combines mythology from central India's Gond tribe with illustrations from three renowned Gond artists who will appear at museums in several U.S. cities this year. Hand screened onto black paper, the colorful, intricately detailed illustrations are almost psychedelic, in some ways reminiscent of Australian Aboriginal drawings. But the forms are recognizably Indian, and despite stylistic differences among the three artists, the pictures reveal a strong and unique Gond artistic tradition where animals, insects and humans merge with and emerge from the trees. There are magical stories about the protective spirits of the Sambar tree, and the serpent and root-entwined snake goddesses holding the earth together. But the practical uses of trees figure here as well: the wood of the thorny Nagphani tree is hard enough to use as a crowbar, and its sap heals sore eyes; the Ganja (marijuana) bush and the Mahua (alcohol) tree are said to be husband and wife. This mingling of the mythic, mundane and poetic gives an alluring glimpse into an integrative worldview that's in poignant contrast to the fragmented postmodern world. (June 1)Correction: In the review of Endgame, by Derrick Jensen (Reviews, May 8), the final sentence should read, "But he has become so disgusted with what he calls 'civilization' that he has more compassion for the salmon than for his fellow humans."
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Review

"A book where the nightingale sings until morning." --John Berger

"The book is a charming and delightful read ... providing a glimpse into the rich storytelling tradition and imaginative world of Gond folklore." -- Time Out (London) October 2006

"This is a book that adds to our understanding of the world." --Fine Books & Collections

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 48 pages
  • Publisher: Tara Books (June 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 8186211926
  • ISBN-13: 978-8186211922
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 0.4 x 13.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #94,387 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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27 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Heather M. on May 13, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I first saw this book at a local bookstore, which quickly sold out before I could get a copy. This book is a unique collection of the silkscreen prints of three separate artists from the same cultural tradition in India. Every image depicts a tree and is accompanied by a short myth about the creation or transformation of that tree. The art style is tribal, using intricate patterns of dots and lines. If you are a fan of tribal art styles and mythology, you will treasure this book for a long time to come. I would hesitate to recommend the book as a children's book for children under a certain age to more conservative parents, given references to suicide and drug use, in particular marijuana and alcohol.

On the whole, however, I found this to be an amazing and incredibly beautiful book. I look at it and read it often. The computer images do not do justice to the rich color and texture of the images.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By L.A. in CA on September 26, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This has got to be one of the most unique and unusual books I have ever owned. It brings together two of my favorite things: art and trees. Each page of art in this book is hand silk screened on heavy black paper. Once the pages are silk screened, they are bound together in a very appealing binding. The prints depict trees from India, along with a bit of the history and folk lore associated with each particular tree. This book is a numbered edition of only 2,000 copies. You can see how it was created by going to You Tube and typing in "tara books". Definitely a small scale, local operation. The artists are amazing. And the price is very inexpensive for a book of hand printed silk screened prints.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By a d being on December 14, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
my new favourite thing in the world - this book is a treasure - a delight to hold, touch and be immersed in - be captivated by its stunning use of colour, gorgeous illustrations and poignant tales. I only bought this book because I read a review on Amazon - it was beyond my expectations. I show this book to all my close friends.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Linda Barnes on January 10, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I just had to have this book. Because of the title, because of the illustrations. I keep it open on my desk so that it is available to me. I turn the pages from time to time so that I am looking at something new and different. It inspires me.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Book-A-Holic on April 5, 2013
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Everything about this book is luscious. From the art, to the paper it is printed on. Just gorgeous and very inspiring.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Vee on April 22, 2013
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This book's art work it incredible. I often contemplate the idea of turning some of it into wall art but I can't bring myself to take a page away from the book. I would love to buy an extra one just for that purpose. If you are into artistic books, this is worth adding to yours and your kids collection.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By sertsa on February 4, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I happen to teach graphic design, and when I read about this book I immediately added it to my wishlist for Christmas as a gift for my children.

Amazing illustrations, beautifully crafted. My kids love it!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Vivek Tejuja on August 8, 2015
Format: Hardcover
Trees are strange. Trees are comforting. Trees have histories and tales spun around them. Trees also have a life of their own which cannot be gauged by humans.

Keeping this in mind and all the tradition and myths behind trees of India, tribal artists in conjunction with Tara Books have published a beautiful limited edition hand-made book called “The Night Life of Trees” and I cannot begin to praise and admire it.

I am not the one for trees and their stories and what they are all about, but after reading this book and soaking in all the illustrations, I want to know more about them, in fact, everything about them. This book is testimony to the living masters of the Gond art form.

There are a total of 19 trees featured in this book and each one is with a story from mythology or seems to be a fairy tale or just is, which is what you will love and cherish as a reader.

The images are alongside the description and make for some beautiful viewing. Moreover, the handmade paper is to die for – quite literally. You will fall in love with it.

The trees in our country are exotically named like the Khirsali, Nagphani, Sembar and so many more after Gods, Goddesses, Serpents and also Birds and Humans.

“The Night Life of Trees” is a treat for everyone to own and keep going back to it. The art will for sure make you.
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