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India has always been famous for its art and architecture. The history of India in terms of art is very vast. Almost every state has its art which has its peculiarity. And the art by tribal communities of India is the most vital. These tribal arts were rich in symbolic aspects as they had very peculiar rituals and characteristics. Let’s learn more about these tribal arts.
Tribal arts of India: Introduction
Folk and tribal art forms a part of Indian art as a whole. It has undergone changes since a long time. They have developed along with classical art. Tribal and folk art belongs to the part of people who belong to diifferent social groups and it has a native flavor. These are visual arts, for example, paintings that show their lifestyle, tradition, and culture. They are the ones close to nature and this thing is regional. They have a set of belief system that lets them to explain things in their own natural ways and this motivates them in their art too. Puranic gods and legends are often converted into contemporary method. Tribal and folk art has the involvement of fairs, festivals, local deities, fantasy in their representation. Indian art cannot do away with this part that has a regional and a mystic aura in it. Nomadic way of life is also an important part of the tribal and folk art. Pithora paintings of the tribes of Rathwa, Bhilals, and Nayka of Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh are another fine example of Indian tribal art. These paintings depict the joy and celebration of the community. Tribal paintings from Orissa, previously done as household decoration, but now a commercial art-form done on raw silk fabric, have themes of everyday life. Madhubani paintings shows bright, lively deities, most popularly Krishna and his beloved Radha, and various stories connected with their legend. They are known after the village of their origin. Others such as Phad, Warli, Pithora, and Choittora also come under this category of Indian art. Tribal art is a term including the art products and performances of tribes. Indian tribes have definite artistic expression. Geographical, sociological, historical, and traditional factors decide the degree of primitiveness among tribes.
Indian tribal art is always outlined upon positive themes and ideas such as birth, life, harvest, journey, jubilation, or marriage. The Indian tribes pay due respect and veneration to Mother Earth and its vital elements. It is a tribal art form where life and imagination are combined. Indian tribal paintings and sculptures are of extremely high quality and are documents of their cultural heritage. Tribes have made their own place in the contemporary world of art. The art gives the tribes a power and responsibility to manage and guide them through it. The symbols depict the imaginations of men and these imaginations are the representative emotions of the people of a specific period and society.
Indian tribal art is an art where life and creativity are inseparable. Indian tribal arts have a unique feeling. Their art is a presentation of their life and holds their passion and mystery. The tribal art is one of the most interesting parts of the tribal culture in India. The treasure of tribal arts is vast and has an amazing range, diversity, and beauty. Traditional Indian tribal art tries to completely recreate the everlasting charisma of Indian tribal life. One can easily come across elegant pieces of Indian tribal art in various parts of India. The Indian tribal art is rich in expression and is a living form very much with the times. It has become an elemental part of the country’s cultural identity.
Through sincere efforts, the Indian tribes try to keep alive a culture that is thousand years’ old, consisting of music, traditions, rituals, and art. They live in complete harmony with nature by conserving their resources and mixing with the environment. The Indian tribal art is the influence of the contemporary art and its narrative approach is very much obliged to the contribution of the history of tribal art that cannot be eliminated.
Types of Tribal paintings of India:
- Warli Folk Paintings
- Tanjore Paintings or Thanjavur Paintings
- Madhubani Art
- Saura Paintings
- Bhil Art
- Pattachitra Paintings
- Kalamazethu Art
- Khovar Art
- Kavad or Kawad Art
1. Warli Folk Paintings
Belonging to the state of Maharashtra, this tribal art is well known for its fundamental wall paintings. It is one of the best examples of folk paintings. In this, basic geometrical shapes are used such as square, circle, triangle. These paintings are engraved in white colour (bamboo used as a brush) on a dark red coloured background. The painting portrays hunting, festivals, fishing, farming, dancing and other scenes of daily life.
2. Tanjore Painting or Thanjavur Painting
Deriving from the town of Thanjavur in the state of Tamil Nadu, this tribal art is a celebration of the region’s rich artistic tradition. This art was first originated in the late 16th century. This classical South-Indian painting style is well known for their use of vibrant colours, glass, stones and gold foils in the work. They are made on a wooden board which is made either from teak wood or jackfruit. These paintings mainly show Hindu Gods and Goddesses. The faces of the deity are made such that they have a round face, oval-shaped eyes. After this, the main body of the deity is surrounded using an arch, curtain, etc.
3. Madhubani Art
Madhubani is an Indian art developed by the women of Mithila. Also known as Mithila art, it is emerged from Bihar. The paintings are made on freshly plastered mud walls, which usually shows nature or religious intent. It includes pictures of Shiva, Krishna, Saraswati, Rama, Durga, Sun, Moon, trees, flowers, animals, wedding scenes etc. The painting is done using brushes, twigs, fingers, match-sticks with natural dyes and pigments etc. The main object of this painting is to cover every inch, gaps with all possible patterns, shapes, designs.
4. Saura Paintings
Saura is a style of mural paintings which is connected to the Saura tribe of Odisha. These paintings also emerged from the state of Orissa but it is also seen in the states of Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Jharkhand. They are also known as Ikons. The backdrop of the painting is made from red or yellow ochre which is painted using brush and bamboo. Very simple figures are used which show the simple yet meaningful everyday life of a village farmer. These paintings are almost same as Warli paintings. The only difference between the two is the use of geometrical figures. These paintings are made during marriage, child-birth or any other special occasion.
5. Bhil Art
Bhils are the second largest tribal community of India. Bhil art is also made by them. Emerging from the states of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra, this art discloses the life of Bhils themself. This tribe used dots to show life in vibrant colours. They try to associate their art and paintings with their Gods, Goddesses and nature. This involves engraving of the Sun, Moon, nature, Gods, etc. from natural and herbal colours on walls or paper. One can easily know the story by seeing the painting.
Emerged from the state of Madhya Pradesh and nearby states, this art is engraved on the mud walls. These paintings are rich in details, lines, colours, mystery and humour. These paintings are also made on paper, canvas, cloths etc. In these paintings, lines, dots and dashes are main features. This painting is made during major festivals such as Holi, Diwali, etc. These paintings are so good in quality that they can last for about 20 years even without any damage.
7. Pattachitra Painting
Pattachitra paintings are traditional paintings which emerged from Odisha and West Bengal. It is a cloth-based painting which represents Gods and Goddesses, made of sharp and fine lines in bold colours, floral designs in borders. In ancient days, these paintings were used for story-telling. What makes this art different from others is the way clothes are presented. These paintings are engraved on “Patta” which means canvas. It is one of the oldest tribal art in India. It is said that an original Pattachitra painting is made from 100% natural colours and can take even months to finish.
8. Kalamezhuthu Art
Kalamezhuthu art is a custom art of God’s own country- Kerala. “Kalam” means picture and “ezhuthu” means drawing. This is a painting done on the floor and it can be seen during festivals and special occasions. It has its own method of drawing. First, the sacred deity is made, during which different remedies are taken into consideration, such as, deity, natural pigment, dimensions, colour choice, etc. After this, he is worshipped and songs are sung in praise of him. Finally, the drawing is erased by dancing on it through custom steps.
9. Khovar Art
This traditional wall art is done during the harvest season. The word Kho or Koh means cave and Var means husband. This matriarchal art is done by the women of the house to adorn the wedding chambers of newlywed couples. Khovar art emerged from Jharkhand. The backdrop is made by firstly applying a coat of black mud and then followed by applying a coat of white mud. After this, a tool is used to peel the coating and make the desired design. Usually, tribal people living in the forest carve animals like, Tiger, Snake, Peacock, etc. whereas those living on plains carve Cow, Goat, Pigeon, etc.
10. Kavad or Kawad Art
Kavad or Kawad art of Rajasthan is almost 500 years old art which is done by Jangid Brahmins of Chittorgarh. It is a three-dimensional box which has several panels that can be extended. It is a movable temple in which different Gods and Goddesses are painted. These panels are made of light wood and shows stories of epics like Ramayana, Puranas, Bhagavad Gita and many more.
It’s a matter of great pride that the Tribal Arts of India are still in practice in many areas and people have kept it alive today even after so many years.
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