Khalil Gibran's classic, The Prophet finds new interpretation in an illustrated adult colouring book inspired by Chinese Taoist philosophy
'LET not the waves of the sea separate us now, and the years you have spent in our midst become a memory.’ These gorgeous words first published in 1923 in Khalil Gibran’s The Prophet, now find a different form of expression in artist Sujaya Batra’s adult colouring book. Titled The Mystical World, the book features 66 illustrations. “I was 16 when I first read The Prophet. I looked back at the book on countless occasions when I needed answers to difficult situations. It is also the first book I gifted my husband,” says Mumbai-based Batra. “The philosophy in the book is simple and the chapters look at everyday situations like work-life, marriage, family and love,” adds the artist, who is also a textile designer.
Zen and art
In England, Batra trained to be a Tai Chi instructor, which led her to delve deeper into the Chinese Taoist, Zen, and Buddhist philosophies, which also find an expression in her illustrations. “In many ways, Tai Chi is like yoga. It teaches you to live in sync with nature and respect it. Many of the movements mimic those of animals. I find this fascinating and used them to interpret Gibran’s wisdom,” says the artist.
The lines ‘But if in your thought you must measure time in seasons, let each season encircle all the other seasons
In July 2015, Batra was designing an annual calendar for her husband’s company and decided to illustrate verses from her favourite book. “It was inevitable that the verses that have been my guide throughout life and the drawing that calms my mind, would eventually come together,” she says. Her art predominantly uses black ink, pencil work and watercolours. When a friend suggested that these would make a colouring book, the idea of this book was born. The book has been touted as an adult’ colouring book.
'And your body is the harp of your soul', interpreted in illustrations in the book, The Mystical World
Everyone's doing it
“Today’s young adults find themselves in a world that is fast-paced, competitive and ever-changing swiftly. All over the world, adult colouring books are becoming popular because in their complex lives, people are looking for simple ways to relax. Colouring is basic but settling. All you need are colour pencils and books.
The Mystical World, Sujaya Batra, Aleph Book Company, R299. Launches nationwide on May 25 in bookstores and online
It allows you to absorb and express which is calming,” Batra explains. “You can either read the verses and then interpret the drawing or reverse it. I’m sure people will find this mix calming and it will help them introspect,” she concludes.