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Those brilliant paintings portraying animals, nature and human lifestyle have always caught our eyes and we have halted to take a look at those and appreciate their perfection and beauty. It has always marveled us when we have tried to decipher those paintings. Also, many of us have bought them home to add to our jewelry or to the house décor. So what makes them so fabulous? What skill must one possess to draw something so abstract yet comprehensible? Yes, that's the thing about tribal art, in fact any art, to draw our attention and marvel at its beauty till we feel ecstatic and overwhelmed with joy. So let's take a tour of the various tribal arts from all over India to understand the art better. Because the next time we stop to buy a piece of article with tribal art done on it, we can proudly identify which one comes from where.
The tribal population in India is about 8.6% of the total population. The states of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Odisha and West Bengal are home to a majority of the tribal communities. Tribes such as Santhala, Munda, Khasi, Gonds, Bhills, etc. are some of the tribal communities that inhabit these states. These communities have their own set beliefs, tradition, folklore, art and literature. The languages they speak also vary. It is evident from historical facts that tribal art has been the source of information for understanding the lifestyle of different tribal communities. It is through their art that we know so much about their notions, their folklore, and their culture.
Let’s go through some of the famous tribal paintings famous in India that have not only gained popularity within the country but also have earned a recognition abroad.
Saura paintings: The Saura paintings or ikons as they popularly called belong to the Saura/Savara tribe of Odisha. The Savara tribe has found mention in the holy Hindu texts of Ramayana and Mahabharata. The Saura paintings depict elements of nature like the sun and moon and also have pictures of animals like horses and elephants. These paintings are dedicated to their deity, Idital. The paintings are worshipped during harvest, childbirth, and marriage. Kudangs or the priests draw these paintings in a dark corner of the house if a new house is constructed. The paintings have a symbolic significance which can only be explained by the priests who draw them.
Pithora Paintings: Pithora paintings are believed to bring peace and prosperity. These paintings are done by the tribes like the Rathwas and Bhilalas, who reside in the central Gujarat and also in villages around Madhya Pradesh. The paintings are done on the walls which the tribes believe brings them good luck. The paintings have more of a ritualistic significance than artistic significance. A Pithora is often drawn on the front wall of the house to combat the problems faced by the people, as advised by their priest. This painting requires applying layers of cow dung and chalk on the wall first and then drawing pictures of animals, ghosts or ancestors on it.
Warli Paintings: The Warli tribe is India’s oldest and largest tribe. The origin of the painting has been traced back to the 10th century AD. The themes of the painting center around nature and their basic occupations such as fishing, hunting, and farming. The Warli tribe is sensitive towards nature and wildlife and therefore these are the major portrayals in their paintings. The paintings are drawn on the walls of their houses and require materials like rice paste, water, gum, and bamboo stick.
Gond Paintings: The Gonds are found in states like Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Telangana, Bihar and Western Odisha. The Gond paintings have been believed to have existed since the Mesolithic age, carved on stones and cave walls. The paintings have pictures of flora and fauna and that of goddesses. The tribal people draw these paintings on the floors of their houses which they believe brings them good luck.
Two other paintings, the Kurumba painting, and the Khovar painting are also considered excellent works of tribal art. Kurumba paintings belong to the Kurumba tribe of the Nilgiris. These paintings cover the different aspects of this tribal community. The Khovar paintings are the traditional mural paintings of tribes residing in the Hazaribagh district of Jharkhand. Khovar means Marriage art and is done by the bride at the time of marriage.
Tribal art gives us an insight into the lives of tribal people. We can understand from their paintings that they have a close association with nature and wildlife and have extreme faith in the supernatural. Their paintings are filled with shapes and motifs. The paintings are the evidence of their ancestral origin. The paintings are a great help for historians. And last but not the least, these paintings are an evidence for India’s diversity.
We have a collection of apparels with tribal artwork, designed specially to suit your taste. Do visit our store to have a look at what's out there for you.