Toni Meneguzzo


Holy Cows

September 18th

Holy Cows, an anthropological research of the Hindu tradition to celebrate the harvest and the bovine sacredness – by Toni Meneguzzo When I first saw a decorated holy cow in Tamil Nadu, I fell in love with the use of colours on the coat of the cow, an expression of art painted on a walking canvas, the cow was carrying the painting while being the painting itself. I thus began the long quest for exploration of the Hindu tradition of dressing and adorning the sacred cows. A long course of study and travel, to obtain the largest possible repertoire of a disappearing art. I produced 92 images: few compared to my laborious and meticulous investigation as the tradition is passed down orally only, many compared the rarity of the subject. Adorned with fresh flowers and colourful decorations, the cows are also prepared by painting their coat and horns with organic pigments that have specific references, and this is the most striking design element. The pigments are thrown on the animal with an artistic flair that recalls the informal painting of Jackson Pollock. The sacredness of the temple, the Go Puja, is celebrated by painting the bindi in the middle of the forehead of the animal, just like all the faithful humans. Finally, I cropped the animals making them float on the milky white, to emphasize the artistic work done by the locals on the cows because the surrounding rural and bucolic scenery is so imbued with Indian folk icon to mitigate the stylistic and artistic contributions used to celebrate the perpetual ritual of life and the sanctity of the animal.