Tantra SongTantric Painting from Rajasthan

Frank André Jamme (editor)

Translated by Michael Tweed, introduction by Lawrence Rinder, interview by Bill Berkson and essay by André Padoux

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hardcover 8 × 11 in.
112 pages, full color
published in 2011
fifth printing

PDF Press Release

Tantra Song is a singular and revelatory collection of rare Tantric paintings made anonymously by adepts in Rajasthan and used to awaken heightened states of consciousness. The paintings’ magnetic, vibratory beauty—as well as their deep affinity with 20th century abstract art—inspires acute attention and boundless contemplation.

The paintings are the progeny of hand-written, illustrated religious treatises from the 17th century which have been copied over multiple generations. Like musicians playing ragas of classical Indian music, adepts paint in a concentrated state of mental rapture, repeating and subtly reinterpreting melodic structures of line and color. When complete, the paintings—made in tempera, gouache, and watercolor on salvaged paper—are pinned to the wall to use in private meditation.

Having spent more than two decades in conversation with the private communities of Rajasthani tantrikas, Jamme—like other poet-ethnographers Michaux, Leiris, and Bataille before him—draws on an unconventional body of knowledge. His accompanying texts—concise and luminous—further open readers to the paintings’ subtle magic.


Lawrence Rinder’s introduction and Bill Berkson’s interview


Tantra Song: Tantric Painting from Rajasthan . . . is an evocation of the image as a threshold leading to new dimensions of meaning, a revelatory understanding that some images are more than mere data; they are instead vital seeds, living carriers of possibility.
—Craig Olson, Brooklyn Rail

“It could be a cult classic: the debut edition of Siglio Press’s Tantra Song—one of the only books to survey the elusive tradition of abstract Tantric painting from Rajasthan, India—sold out in a swift six weeks. The works depict deities as geometric, vividly hued shapes and mark a clear departure from Tantric art’s better-known figurative styles. They also resonate uncannily with lineages of twentieth-century art—from the Bauhaus and Russian Constructivism to Minimalism—as well as with much painting today. Rarely have the ancient and the modern come together so fluidly.”
—Lauren O’Neill-Butler, The Paris Review

Read more reviews at The New York Times Style Magazine, Port Magazine and Brain Pickings.

see also


A Silver Lining To All That DarknessBill Berkson interviews Franck André Jamme


How a symbol of god comes alive next to a smudge or smearIntroduction to Tantra Song: Tantric Painting from Rajasthan

Lawrence Rinder

✼ elsewhere:

“The truth is that I operate as a writer and in some ways as an editor very much inside a space of instinct. There’s a kind of silence there …” —Danielle Dutton, from her interview with Karla Kelsey in Feminist Poetics of the Archive at Tupelo Quarterly


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