Illustrations That Pay Tribute To India’s Forgotten Female Warriors - Homegrown

Illustrations That Pay Tribute To India’s Forgotten Female Warriors

Just when we were recovering from Priyanka Paul’s monumental ‘Goddess’ series, we stumbled across another 17-year-old girl who has been changing the narrative of the way we project women in our country via equally compelling formats. Tara Anand is a high school student from Mumbai, who started illustrating at a very young age and is now using graphic art to revive the lost beauty of Indian female warriors through a project called, ‘I am no man.’ Does the title ring a bell? If a you’re a Lord of the Ring fan, then you might remember this sentence in the form of a dialogue proclaimed by a female character, Eowyn who defeats a ghostly king in a battle. This unabashed display of bravery inspired Tara to use it as an ode for the unrecognised Indian female warriors.

“I recently went abroad for a course and we had a conversation about powerful queens in history and I was surprised at how many of the names I rattled off were western women. As soon as I got back I dug out my amar chitra kathas and my laptop and got to researching Indian warrior queens out of sheer embarrassment that I could only name two or three,” explains Tara in an interview with Homegrown.


Rani Laxmi Bai (left) was an Indian queen who is best known for forming and commandeering an army against the British in an effort to defend her kingdom of Jhansi. She also lead another military campaign against the forces of Orchha and Datia and took over the administration of the kingdom after her husband died. Rani Abbakka Chowta of Ullal (right) was India's first female freedom fighter, she defended her kingdom against Portuguese invasion for four decades in the 16th Century. Image and caption credit: Tara Anand
Rani Laxmi Bai (left) was an Indian queen who is best known for forming and commandeering an army against the British in an effort to defend her kingdom of Jhansi. She also lead another military campaign against the forces of Orchha and Datia and took over the administration of the kingdom after her husband died. Rani Abbakka Chowta of Ullal (right) was India's first female freedom fighter, she defended her kingdom against Portuguese invasion for four decades in the 16th Century. Image and caption credit: Tara Anand

We have all heard the epic stories of Rani Laxmibai, but as Anand explained to us further, the narrative of war in India has always been more male-centric because of which many admirable women get left out from the mix. She adds, “All the history books I went through in school and the amar chitra kathas I read as a kid celebrated innumerable male warriors from mythology and history but just a handful of them touched upon any powerful female figures, unless they were goddesses or the wives of some king, known for their beauty and nothing else.”

Motivated to shift this gaze, Tara began researching more about these female figures and collated an incredible list that transitioned into a powerful illustration project. While selecting these women, she payed special attention in putting together a diverse set to promote intersectional feminism that does not overlook social class and caste. “My favourite from the series is Bibi Dalair Kaur because she not only fought the Mughals, but did it with an all-women army. Also Rani Velu Nachiyar for similar reasons, the fact that she had a special “women’s army” and named it after her daughter and lastly, Rani Abbakka because of how relentless she was in fighting against the Mughals,” said Anand.

While we are completely delighted to see Tara’s intelligent views on feminism, her illustrations are equally captivating. Scroll down to see more from the series.


Trained in Warcraft as a child Rani Velu Nachiyar of Sivaganga (left) ruled her kingdom for over a decade after her husband was killed by the British. She lead her kingdom's army in numerous battles against colonial powers in the 17 hundreds and even formed a special
Trained in Warcraft as a child Rani Velu Nachiyar of Sivaganga (left) ruled her kingdom for over a decade after her husband was killed by the British. She lead her kingdom's army in numerous battles against colonial powers in the 17 hundreds and even formed a special "women's army" named "Udaiyaal" after her daughter. After succeeding her father to the Kakatiya Throne at 14, Rani Rudrama Devi (right) lead battles against the nobles in her kingdom who opposed her rule because she was a woman. Image and caption credit: Tara Anand
 
Chand Bibi (leftt) is known as a 16th century warrior woman but she was also skilled in languages, music and art. She acted as the regent of Bijapur and Ahmednagar and defended her territory against Mughal invasion. Bibi Dalair Kaur (right) was a Sikh woman in the 17th century who formed an all woman army to fight Mughal forces. Image and caption credit: Tara Anand
Chand Bibi (leftt) is known as a 16th century warrior woman but she was also skilled in languages, music and art. She acted as the regent of Bijapur and Ahmednagar and defended her territory against Mughal invasion. Bibi Dalair Kaur (right) was a Sikh woman in the 17th century who formed an all woman army to fight Mughal forces. Image and caption credit: Tara Anand
 
Ahilya Bai Holkar (left) became queen of the Maratha ruled Malwa kingdom once her husband and father in law both died. She personally lead armies into battles against plundering Mughal rulers and is greatly revered because the era of her reign was known as one of prosperity and order. Rani Chennamma of Kittur (right), one of the first female Indian rulers to lead an armed rebellion against the British in 1824. Image and caption credit: Tara Anand
Ahilya Bai Holkar (left) became queen of the Maratha ruled Malwa kingdom once her husband and father in law both died. She personally lead armies into battles against plundering Mughal rulers and is greatly revered because the era of her reign was known as one of prosperity and order. Rani Chennamma of Kittur (right), one of the first female Indian rulers to lead an armed rebellion against the British in 1824. Image and caption credit: Tara Anand
 
Belwadi Mallamma (right) was a 17th Century warrior queen from Karnataka who fought the Mughals with a women only army that she formed. Joanna Nobilis Sombre (left), popularly called Begum Samru was india's first woman Roman Catholic ruler and leader of a mercenary army that she inherited from her European husband. Image and caption credit: Tara Anand
Belwadi Mallamma (right) was a 17th Century warrior queen from Karnataka who fought the Mughals with a women only army that she formed. Joanna Nobilis Sombre (left), popularly called Begum Samru was india's first woman Roman Catholic ruler and leader of a mercenary army that she inherited from her European husband. Image and caption credit: Tara Anand
 


Best known from the popular film Bajirao Mastani, Mastani (left) was also immensely skilled in Warfare and accompanied her husband on his military campaigns. Married to Shivaji's son, Tarabai (right) was famous for personally leading an ongoing insurgency against the Mughals to protect her Maratha kingdom from invasion. Image and caption credit: Tara Anand
Best known from the popular film Bajirao Mastani, Mastani (left) was also immensely skilled in Warfare and accompanied her husband on his military campaigns. Married to Shivaji's son, Tarabai (right) was famous for personally leading an ongoing insurgency against the Mughals to protect her Maratha kingdom from invasion. Image and caption credit: Tara Anand


Onake Obavva (left) was an 18th century woman in Karnataka who fought the forces of Hyder Ali with a pestle. Nagamma (right) is often hailed as one of the most powerful women in medieval India. While not a queen, Nagamma held immense administrative powers as a minister who later rose to be the prime minister of her kingdom. She was also trained in Warcraft and we a key player in the
Onake Obavva (left) was an 18th century woman in Karnataka who fought the forces of Hyder Ali with a pestle. Nagamma (right) is often hailed as one of the most powerful women in medieval India. While not a queen, Nagamma held immense administrative powers as a minister who later rose to be the prime minister of her kingdom. She was also trained in Warcraft and we a key player in the "epic" War of Palnad. Image and caption credit: Tara Anand

Words: Karan Kaul


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