Where has the Tiger gone? is a retelling of traditional tales from the Gond community in central India by Pardhan Gond artist Dhavat Singh Uikey. Published by Tara Books, this collection of stories is centred around the tiger, a beast that is equally revered and feared by the Gond people. Through richly symbolic art, Uikey captures both the mythic and iconic status of the great beast, and seeks to preserve the memory of a time, place and relationship that is now lost to us.
Uikey illustrated one image for each story combining elements that feature in the tale. To bring in more dynamism, the illustrations were used in different ways to bring out details of the art. Unusually, the first aspect of this book's design that we worked on was its cover. A poignant anecdote by the artist was the inspiration:
"Chalit's teacher has taught him that T is for tiger, and told him that the beast lives in the forest, that he is the king of all animals, and that he roars ... We have gone looking for the tiger at the zoo many times–and found him hidden behind a tree or rock. Sometimes only his tail is visible, at other times, one of his paws. He stays within the boundaries of the area around which he is allowed to wander..."
The image of a tiger glaring through die-cuts designed to resemble a cage seemed an apt visual metaphor to Uikey's words.