Haku shah

Haku Shah
Haku Shah
Birth name Haku Vajubhai Shah
Born (1934-03-26) March 26, 1934 (age 80)
Gujarat, India
Field painting, tribal art, writer
Awards 1989: Padma Shri

Haku Shah (Devanagari:हकु शाह) (born 1934) is a Gandhian, an eminent Indian painter belonging to the Baroda School, he is also a cultural anthropologist, an author of international repute on folk and tribal art and culture. His works are considered in the line of artists who brought themes of folk or tribal art to Indian art.[1]

He has received several awards including the Padma Shri (1989), the Nehru Fellowship and the Kala Ratna for his contribution to art.[2]

Early life and education

Haku Vajubhai Shah born in 1934, in Valod in Surat district, Gujarat, and later he joined M.S. University, Baroda, from where he graduated in Fine Arts (BFA) in 1955, followed by a Masters degree in Fine Arts (MFA) from the same university.[3]


His work caught public eye, and by 1965 he had held several one-man shows in Kolkata and Mumbai. In 1968, he curated the 'Unknown India' exhibition, organized by Art Critic Stella Kramrisch at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. He received the Rockefeller Grant in the same year and in 1971, the Nehru Fellowship Award.[3]

Over the years, he has carried out extensive field research and documentation on rural and tribal arts and crafts, traditions and folk lore. He has taught at a Gandhian Ashram in south Gujarat for several years and established a tribal museum at Gujarat Vidyapith in Ahmedabad, which was set up by Mahatma Gandhi. Haku curated the museum for several year, which was to become his last legacy.

His work is deeply influenced by the tribal art and culture, a theme on which he has written several of his works, and also Bhakti movement, especially its Nirguna poetry. In 2009, he published his memoirs titled, Manush.


Solo exhibitions

  • 1961: Ashok Gallery, Kolkata
  • 1962: Ashok Gallery, Kolkata
  • 1963: Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai
  • 1964: Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai; Academy of Arts, Kolkata
  • 1967: Chemould Gallery, Mumbai; Private Garden, Delhi
  • 1968: International House, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; The Art Scene Today, Chemould Gallery, Mumbai; Asia Foundation Gallery, San Francisco, California
  • 1969: Chemould Gallery, Mumbai; City Art Museum, St. Louis, Missouri
  • 1971: Sanskar Kendra, Ahmedabad; Chemould Gallery, Mumbai
  • 1973: Sanskar Kendra, Ahmedabad
  • 1975: Chemould Gallery, Mumbai
  • 1976: Gallery One, New York
  • 1981: Sanskar Kendra, Paldi, Ahmedabad
  • 1984: Academy of Fine Arts, Kolkata; Minge Kan, Folk Art Museum, Tokyo
  • 1987: Vikram Art Gallery, Madras
  • 1988: Aressa Gallery, Mumbai
  • 1991: Bade Museum, Berkeley
  • 1993: Art Heritage, New Delhi
  • 1994: Chemould Gallery, Mumbai
  • 1996: Cymroza Gallery, Mumbai
  • 1997: The Village Gallery, New Delhi; India International Centre (IIC), New Delhi; The Gallery, Chennai, Art Indus, New Delhi; Herwitz Art Gallery, Ahmedabad
  • 1998: Durban Art Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa; Lalit Kala Akademi, Chandigarh
  • 1999: All India Fine Arts & Crafts Society, (AIFACS), New Delhi
  • 2000: Birla Academy of Art & Culture, Mumbai
  • 2002: Visual Art Gallery, India Habitat Centre, New Delhi
  • 2004: Coomarswamy Hall, Prince of Wales Museum, Mumbai; Sarjan Art Gallery, Vadodara
  • 2005: Shridharani Gallery, New Delhi; Cima Gallery, Kolkata; Marvel Art Gallery, Ahmedabad
  • 2007: Time & Space Gallery, Bangalore; Visual Art Gallery, India Habitat Centre, New Delhi
  • 2008: Tao Art Gallery, Mumbai; Emami Chisel Art Gallery, Kolkata; Marvel Art Gallery, Ahmedabad (Nov-Dec 2008)

One-Man Exhibitions of Photographs


  • 1978: "Pithoro, the Tribal God”', Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi
  • 1970, “Scraps”, made with Yvonne Hannemann

Major Projects

  • 1979: Process of Technology, concept and design, Tropenmuseum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  • 1981: Village Vasna, concept/collection and photos, Museum of Mankind, London.
  • 1983: Form and Many Forms of Mother Clay, concept, design, curator and catalogue, Crafts Museum, New Delhi and Mingei International, San Diego, California
  • 1986: The Art of the Adivasis, commissioner, concept and design, in Japan, as part of “Festival of India”
  • 1988: Form Colour and Creativity, curator, concept and design, Crafts Museum, New Delhi.
  • 1989: Shilpa Gram, created permanent village as museum, craft centre, revival of arts and crafts and theatre, concept and design, Udaipur
  • 1990: Shilpa Mela, Arts and Crafts Fair at Ahmedabad, visualizer, designer and consultant, for Handicrafts Corporation, Government of Gujarat.

Children's books


  • 1969: Community Ancestor Worship', (in Gujarati, Hindi and English, Gujarat Vidyapith, Ahmedabad. (with Vimal Shah and Ramesh Shroff)
  • 1970: Rural Craftsmen and their work, equipment and techniques in the Mer village of Ratadi in Saurashtra, India. National Institute of Design Ahmedabad (with Eberhard Fischer)
  • 1971: Schlichter Eintrag-Ikat aus Süd-Gujarat, Indien, Die Herstellung von Lendentüchern für die Chaudhri-Stämme in Mandvi durch Khatri-Weber in Tribus Vol. 19:47-69, Linden-Museum, Stuttgart. (with Eberhard Fischer)
  • 1971: Mogra dev, tribal crocodile gods of the Chodhri, Gamit and Vasava tribes, South Gujarat, India. Gujarat Vidyapith, Ahmedabad (with Eberhard Fischer)
  • 1972: Kunsttraditionen in Nordindien: Stammeskunst, Volkskunst, klassische Kunst. Museum Rietberg Zürich (with Eberhard Fischer)
  • 1973: Simple weft-ikat' from South Gujarat, India. Calico Museum of Textiles, Ahmedebad (with Eberhard Fischer)
  • 1973: Vetra ne khambha, memorials for the dead, wooden figures and memorial slabs of the Chodhri, Gamit and Vasava tribes, South Gujarat, India. Gujarat Vidyapith, Ahmedabad (with Eberhard Fischer)
  • 1974: Tatauieren in Kutch, in Ethnologische Zeitschrift Zürich Vol.2:105-129 Völkerkundemuseum Zürich. (with Eberhard Fischer)
  • 1975: Kites flourishing in Ahmedabad, India, in Asian Culture Centre for UNESCO.
  • 1976, Treatment against Ghosts and Spirits, the Bhagtai-ceremony of the Chodhri tribe in Gujarat, in German Scholars on India, vol.2:51-60, Bombay (with Eberhard Fischer)
  • 1978: Folk Myth and Tribal Magic, in Art Heritage exhibition catalogue no.1.
  • 1979: More lights on the Harappan Terracotta Figures, in The Eastern Anthropologist with Suman Pandya)
  • 1980: The ritual paintings of the god Pithora Baba, Zürcher Zeitschrift für Ethnologie, vol. 11: 7-62.
  • 1982: Tempeltücher für die Muttergöttinnen in Indien, Zeremonien, Herstellung und Ikonographie gemalter und gedruckter Stoffbilder aus Gujarat, Museum Rietberg Zürich (with Eberhard Fischer and Jyotindra Jain)
  • 1982: The voice that paints, in Shilpakar, pp. 77–87, Crafts Council of Western India, Bombay.
  • 1984: On Art and Ritual, India International Centre Quarterly, vol. 11, no.4:14-33, New Delhi. (Interview with Geeti Sen)
  • 1985: Form and many Forms of Mother Clay, Contemporary Indian Pottery and Terracotta (with contributions by Pupul Jayakar, C. Sivaramamurti and Stella Kramrisch) exhibition catalogue for the National Crafts Museum, New Delhi.
  • 1985: Votive terracottas of Gujarat , Mapin Publishers, Ahmedabad. (edited by Carmen Kegal)
  • 1985: Gopal, ein indischer Balladensänger zeichnet sein Leben, Jogi Gopal gay chhe, Gopal chitre chhe (German and Gujarati) Peter Hammer Verlag, Wuppertal. (with Barbara and Eberhard Fischer) Gopal singt, Lieder eines indischen Balladensängers und Zeichners, tape and leaflet of songs by Gopal.
  • 1987, Some 19th-century garâs pata or jajmâniî documents of Muslim potters in Kutch, in Verhandlungen der Naturforschenden Gesellschaft, Basel, vol. 97:103-120, Museum für Völkerkunde Basel. (with Eberhard Fischer)
  • 1991, Mati in Indigenous Visions, India International Centre Quarterly, New Delhi (interview with Geeti Sen)
  • 1992, Teju means radiating light, in Brunner and Vogelsanger edit. Teju zeichnet, aus den Malheften einer indischen Familie (pp. 5–12), Völkerkundemuseum der Universität Zürich.
  • 1992: Contemporary streams of tribal and folk art, exhibition catalogue New South Wales Gallery, Australia.
  • 2009:Manush (memoirs).

See also

  • Indian pottery

Further reading

  • Invisible Order: Tribute to Haku Shah, by Eberhard Fischer. Publisher, Art Indus, 1999. ISBN 81-87670-00-2.
  • Vartakaar ki Vaani (with Piyush Daiya) Excerpts
  • Interview: Haku Shah, by Vandana Sood


External links

  • Haku Shah, website
  • The Hindu.