Monday 15 January 2024

Sohrai-Khovar Painting - Justin Imam

It was wonderful to meet & interact with Justin Imam ji 6 weeks ago at the Odi Art Museum at the Chilika Shelduck Folk Carnival 2023 held at Barkul, Odisha where he was a speaker.

He had also displayed Sohrai & Khovar at the stall. He was so enthusiastic about this GI craft's promotion and explained to all visitors continuously and proudly shared information with all. 

"Which way to hold the painting? Horizontally or vertically?" I asked while being sure that it was to be vertically.
"Am I holding it right?" I showed him by turning back as he was standing inside the stall while I was outside (Pics 1 & 2)
That's when he corrected me. You can see the image that has the correct depiction.

He also invited me so graciously to his home in Jharkhand. 

"You must visit & meet my father. He has documented a lot about art. He will be very happy to meet you. You both are so alike!" Justin ji had mentioned several times within those two days. 

He had also fondly mentioned his family members especially his wife, and all artists. It was so interesting to listen to his interesting family history. 

He was happy to listen to my presentation and was very excited to especially learn about Odisha's Kotpad Handloom. The usage of natural dye and sustainability interested him a great deal.
He had requested a connection with a weaver that I had promptly done last month.
Justin ji & I became "friends" on Facebook last month.

The following images show our pics with some art students from Khallikore Art College.

Truly shocked & extremely saddened to lose our valuable community member- Justin Imam ji.

Prayers for his immortal soul. Praying for strength for his family. 

We have lost a valuable cultural heritage advocate and promoter of traditional crafts of Jharkhand. 

The applicant of Geographical Indication (GI) art- Sohrai & Khovar, Justin Imam ji played a huge role in protecting, preserving and promoting art forms and serving the local community.

He was the son of Padma Shri Bulu Imam ji.

Justin ji was just 49 years old. He suffered a cardiac arrest and we have lost him.

I hate to write about Justin ji in the past tense. 

Will always remember his smiling face, gentle demeanour & passion. 

This is a huge loss for India.

The sad news has been widely covered by media-

PTI News:

& several other news media publications...

More images shared in my Facebook post here.

Did you know about Sohrai And Khovar art forms?


  1. It was with great interest that I started reading about Justin Imam ji and about his abiding involvement with local art and how he promoted and preserved several art forms of especially the traditional Sohrai and Khovar art forms till i came to know the shocking news of his demise at an young age.
    I liked your glowing tribute to the departed soul.

    1. Thanks a lot for reading & for sharing your kind words, KP ji.
      Justin Imam ji has contributed a lot for this art form & community.
      His work has supported & benefited many & will continue to inspire.
      Just met him a couple of weeks ago and it's still tough to believe...


Your words mean a lot to me.

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