Raoui - The Storyteller

Like spells, stories have their own charms, the magical formula that announces the beginning of the fantasy. Every language has their own “Once upon a time”. We need stories to remember and to forget, to understand the meaning of our world. ‘Raoui’ – the storyteller, is inspired by the great Souad Massi, an ode to storytelling.

Storytelling is a form of prayer. Each time a story is born, it rapidly morphs with generational trauma, present injustices, hopefulness and situational highlights. These pragmatic realties attach themselves like moths and when a story finally cocoons, they present themselves in the self-awareness of the listener.

From this collection we will witness 6 stories

  1. Story of Kandaka - The Nubian Queen’ . The unforgettable visual of a woman dressed in white, standing on top of a car. Chanting and pointing to the sky, as the crowd holds up their hands to are of Alaa Salah.
  2. Umrao Jan - her woes originate in a typical patriarchal mold. As a young girl, she is kidnapped in an act of vengeance against Umrao’s father for giving testimony against him. The villain sells her to a Lucknow Kothi—a high-culture space also operating as a brothel.
  3. Pursuit of Pleasure – A delicately rendered half-length portrait of a lady by 17th Century Mughal emperor’s artist, Kalyan Das. This period was a one of the periods emphasizing construction of female identity . Mughal women were the patrons of various cultural activities. Mughal ladies like Noor Jahan Jahanara, Zab-un-Nisa were educated women of age having their own libraries. Second, they consciously contributed in cultural life of that period.
  4. Zareen - The Mughal era in India saw the rise of several powerful women who challenged gender norms and played significant roles in shaping the political and cultural landscape of their time. While the concept of feminism as we understand it today did not exist during this period, these women were certainly trailblazers who paved the way for future generations of women to assert themselves in public life.One notable example is Nur Jahan, the wife of Emperor Jahangir, who was known for her political savvy and military leadership. She was one of the most powerful women of her time and is credited with playing a major role in shaping the Mughal Empire. Other examples include Jahanara Begum, the daughter of Emperor Shah Jahan, who was a patron of the arts and a writer in her own right, and Razia Sultana, who briefly ruled the Delhi Sultanate in the 13th century.It is also worth noting that courtesans during this period, while limited in their social mobility, were often highly skilled and educated, and played important roles as patrons of the arts and as cultural ambassadors. Their artistic contributions helped to shape the cultural landscape of their time, and their example may have inspired other women to pursue education and creative pursuits.In sum, while the concept of feminism as we understand it today did not exist during the Mughal era, the actions of powerful women and the contributions of courtesans during this period can certainly be seen as inspiring and empowering for women today.
  1. Kitabzan - Literature played a significant role in the lives of Mughal women, who were known for their love of books and poetry. Many women of the Mughal court were highly educated and literate, and they often hosted literary gatherings where they discussed and debated the latest works of literature. One notable example of a Mughal woman with a passion for books is Empress Nur Jahan, who was a gifted poet and patron of the arts. She was known for her love of Persian literature and her support of female writers and poets. Another example is Jahanara Begum, the daughter of Emperor Shah Jahan, who was a renowned author and patron of Sufi literature. These women were able to use their knowledge of literature to gain social influence and promote their own values and beliefs, despite the limitations placed on them by their gender and societal expectations
  2. Enigma - Pakistan's truck art is about culture, history, tradition, storytelling, passion, love and many many more. Every little adornment on the truck has special significant. These are moving canvases covered in poetry, folk tales, religious, sentimental and emotional world views of the individuals employed in the truck industry, making it one of the biggest representational art in the world.

We pass on these stories so that we are not forever wandering an in-between space. We tuck our children and grandchildren in the folds of our arms to inspire life. We task our family and friends with the call to deep wonder and imagination because if we continue to keep stories like Kandaka, Umrao Jan and our Mughal era alive, we can continue to brave life with incredible faith.