ANNAPURNA DEVI FOUNDATION : IDENTITY
CLIENT : ANNAPURNA DEVI FOUNDATION, MUMBAI
Foundation fostering cultural representation for musicians and music educators.
In trust and memory of Annapurna Devi, Legendary Musician and Guru ( 1927-2018)
About Annapurna Devi
Annapurna Devi (1927-2018) was a renowned Hindustani classical musician and one of the few Indian women to have mastery over knowledge of Indian Classical Music via her chosen spiritual agent and music instrument, the Surbahar – the colossal and original mother of the modern day Sitar. Due to its size and complexity, the Surbahar is not an instrument known for women to play, but upon seeing her potential in mastery when she was young, her father and renowned Guru, Ustad ‘Baba’ Allauddin Khan-sahib suggested that she was deserving of the Surbahar, and the Surbahar of her. Through her life, Annapurna Devi only performed a handful of times and remained a private person. She did however choose to teach music for free and only to deserving disciples. Her students include many notable including Hariprasad Chaurasia, Nityanand Haldipur and Nikhil Banerjee.
The Annapurna Devi Foundation is a Trust that was formed with Annapurna Devi as the settlor and the first trustee, to fulfill objectives of serving Indian classical music, supporting in-penury musicians, preserving the musical heritage of the Maihar Senia school of music and commemorating the work of her father and renowned Guru, Ustad ‘Baba’ Allauddin Khan-sahib. The Trust serves these objectives by providing financial aid to impoverished and deserving musicians, organising concerts, supporting documentaries on musicians and conferring awards to musicians of high calibre. The foundation’s works and visions represent the commitment to musical and spiritual dispositions and commemorates their own Guru. It is inclusive to the wide spectrum within the arts of music – the expertise it represents, encourages, and mentors all arenas and citizens of Indian classical music.
The identity was based on what the foundation felt must serve philosophical justice to their undertakings and represent their icon, Annapurna Devi in light as she truly was. For instance her state of a complete surrender and meditative involvement with the music she would play, her consummate mastery over the colossal instrument in contrast to her modest frame, the expression of poise & the simplicity of her appearance.
I myself have been a student of Indian classical music and have witnessed Indian Musical teacher and student traditions. I embarked on a research about Annapurna Devi through the material sent by clients’ as well as on my own. It included listening to the few recorded performances and intuitively sketching the images that were evoked in me. I also segued into researching the revered instrument the ‘Surbahar’ itself.
With the help of several interviews, photographs, articles as well as book references about Annapurna Devi, I discovered several fascinating facets of the simply dressed Annapurna Devi’s personality, teaching methods and disposition. Annapurna Devi was a quiet person and her riyaz (daily practice) was usually in solitude, late at night into the wee hours of the morning. Every morning she would feed a loyal hundred pigeons flying into her balcony-by-the-sea, most of whom she knew by face – often citing little traits about them to her friends. It seemed that her engagement with birds offered her a connection to nature – and the cosmic dimension of rhythmic imaginations.
The Symbol is an ode to Annapurna Devi – her dedication to and an invitation to perfection of serious craft, and the softness and strength in her personality. It evokes and represent the spiritual quest of music, and strength in the foundation’s undertaking and vision led by their Guru’s spirit, Annapurna Devi.
The contouring white space representing the wide universe, the abstraction of the Surbahar – her chosen form of musical expression, and the white saree representing her life’s pure dedication to Saraswati, or Sharada Ma, the goddess who is too represented wearing white – for the foundation, she embodies the Goddess. The fleck of a earthy red flower in her hair – a symbol of fiery spirit with no care for what the world thought of her and the bird an abstraction of her loyal pigeons, offering music’s eternal connection to nature, and limitless possibilities. The moon that is ensconced as a highlight element within the Surbahar – shows dedication where world time is irrelevant – through nights or days. The typeface is modern classical with clean strokes – yet holding the strong voice of cultural tradition, classical elegance and compliments, supports and amplifies – the illustrated abstract identity.
My clients unanimously agreed that it represents philosophical and essential justice to who they are, what their spiritual quest is, and who their Guru Annapurna Devi was.
The bird will be used as a secondary element, independently in publications, website pages, and if they decide, have the freedom to be use in colours – to represent different formats. The identity would also lend itself to beautiful motion graphics for different broadcast formats.