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Photography

#architecture#India#Rajesh Vora

Rajesh Vora Photographs the Unique Punjabi Tradition of Adorning Homes with Sculptural Water Tanks

July 8, 2024

Grace Ebert

a large-scale airplane rests on the roof of a massive home

Rajesh Vora. Uppal Bhupa Village, Jalandhar District, Punjab, 2015. Image courtesy of the artist and PHOTOINK

Visit the rural villages of Doaba, in India’s Punjab state, and you’ll likely encounter enormous sculptures of airplanes, tanks, and soccer players perched atop homes. The regional custom began in the late 1970s with Indian citizens who had immigrated to other parts of the world but kept residences in their native country. Dubbed “showpieces,” the rooftop sculptures are a playful mix of art and architecture and even have a practical function, doubling as water tanks.

During the last several years, photographer Rajesh Vora traversed about 6,000 kilometers across the state to document hundreds of these works. Because their owners are often elsewhere, many homes are unused much of the year, and their architectural additions are reminders of the residents’ unique histories and ties to the region in their absence.

Vora’s photos capture the colloquial tradition and are on view now for the Rencontres d’Arles festival. Up through September 29, Everyday Baroque features dozens of images of the playful, idiosyncratic sculptures that characterize the landscape across hundreds of Punjabi villages.

Find more from the series on PHOTOINK, and pick up a copy of Vora’s book dedicated to the subject.

an ornate vessel with birds perched on the top rests atop the third story of a home with two balconies

Rajesh Vora. Kandola Kalan Village, Jalandhar District, Punjab, 2015. Image courtesy of the artist and PHOTOINK

a weathered liquor bottle rests atop a cream colored home with large windows and a small rug and sink in a courtyard

Rajesh Vora. Jhander Kalan Village, Nawanshahr District, Punjab, 2015. Image courtesy of the artist and PHOTOINK

a photo of a rural village with large sculptures of tanks and airplanes on the tops of homes

Rajesh Vora. Daulatpur Village, Nawanshahr District, Punjab, 2015. Image courtesy of the artist and PHOTOINK

a red van sculpture rests atop a yellow home with a sink outside a doorway at the bottom left

Rajesh Vora. Mehat Village, Kapurthala District, Punjab, 2014

#architecture#India#Rajesh Vora

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