Title: Khukumanir Chhara [Rhymes for the Little Girl]
Author: Selected and compiled by Yogindranath Sarkar.
Publisher: Keshabchandra Chaudhuri, the City Book Society, 64, College Street, Calcutta.
Printer: Printed by Abanimohan Palchaudhuri at Jatiya Mudran 77, Dharmatala Street, Calcutta 13.
Date & edition: First published 1899. 13th edition.nd.
Price: 2 rupees 8 annas [13th edition]
About the book: Though published as a compendium of children’s rhymes, the book remains widely acknowledged as a historic volume in the archiving of Bengali folklore. A compilation of orally known verses that traditionally went by the name of ‘chhelebhulano chhara’ (literally translating as ‘rhymes to amuse children’) in Bengal, the book attracted lavish compliments from the literary luminaries of the day like Ramendrasundar Trivedi and Dineshchandra Sen.
In his lengthy introduction to the volume by Ramendrasundar Trivedi, a folk enthusiast, stated that “the book marked a radical endeavour in the literature of Bengal” in that it had pioneered an excavation of “the bones of history” that were buried in these rural rhymes. Significantly, it was in this introduction that Trivedi coined the phrase “shishu sahitya” or “children’s literature” that gained much popularity and went on to be the descriptive term for a multifarious vernacular genre.
The title promises rhymes for ‘khukumani’ – a Bengali term of endearment for the little girl. However, the contents have little to do with the girl mentioned in the title and the rhymes that refer ‘khoka’ - an appellation for a little boy – by far outnumber those that concern the khukumani.
Illustrations: Woodcut illustrations appear on almost every page of the book. While some are printed off ‘borrowed’ blocks – blocks that are manifestly Western in character, portraiture and stylistic details; the wonderful embodiments of fantastic creatures like ‘Akanore’ and ‘Hushur mushur’ - who had been inhabiting the folk imagination of Bengal - remain outstanding till date.
Note: An endorsement appears on the title page. The Director recommends it as a prize book and as an ideal volume for the library.
The title page verso advertises a list of thirty-one juvenile titles by Yogindranath Sarkar.
Genre: Book of rhymes
Source: The Boys’ Own Library, Kolkata.
Shelfmark: Shi 1424
1. Title page
2. Page 1
3. Illustration of Akanore
References consulted for this entry
Mitra, Khagendranath. Shatabdir Shishusahitya
Sen, Dineshchandra. The Folk Literature of Bengal.