Pithora art shows different hues of tribal life in Madhya Pradesh
BHOPAL: Be it the
depiction of countryside, weddings, festivals or celebrations – Pithora art,
made by tribals of Aadharkaanch in Alirajpur district of Madhya Pradesh,
celebrates different realities of rural living.
The paintings are
usually canvased on cloth, paper, card boards and walls with natural and
synthetic colors. Traditionally, Pithora like every other form of painting
originated on the walls of tribal households.
Wall paintings till
date remain one of the most common forms of creative expression, and makes for
traditional home décor that has religious importance to the Bhilalas. Warli,
Pithora, Mandana – tribals in India engage in various art forms to adorn their
homes during festivals, and more recently also with an objective of
diversifying their incomes.
derived from cave, wall and rock paintings, this art is heavily inspired from
Gujarat, has religious and mythological relevance to indigenous tribes of
Madhya Pradesh which has slowly transformed into a vibrant occupation of the
Bhilalas or Rathwas.
The process begins
with Lipai that comprises of setting the background of walls with dung, water
and chuna. Painted in spectacular and vivid reds, greens, oranges, blues and
pinks- birds, animals, trees, the cosmos all find their representation through
these paintings. It is considered sacred to paint horses, the sun, and the moon
which, are believed to be the three lucky mascots in Bhilala mythological
stories, characterizing and distinguishing these paintings.
Daily activities of
rural life such as farming, hunting, ploughing, and exuberance in festivities
like dancing and singing in revelry, depicting social cohesion are exhibited
through colors and imagination with highest reverence to Pithora Dev and local
A beautiful mélange
of colors inspired from nature is seen in wall and paper paintings, but each
pattern differs from the other. An important feature of authentic Pithora art
is that no two paintings are ever similar and artists take care of this ‘unique
selling point’ of their skill with utmost precision.
Every artist leaves
a distinct mark on each of his paintings to signify his intellectual and
creative rights over the murals, thereby making each and every painting unique
in its own way by using different color combinations, floral patterns, and
symmetry in murals.
The backgrounds are
white or crème but could be stark red for a rustic mud color appeal suiting
contemporary tastes. Tribal chores are depicted beautifully on these paintings
which have over time become quite an exorbitant home décor product finding
distant refuge in urban homes. The authentic portrayal of village and tribal
life is done ecstatically to present hardship and occasional festivity, thus
underscoring the co-existence of hope and despair in tribal lives, through
depiction of daily chores and celebrations at the same time, making a painting
Men of the tribe
engage in this mural art form which is a traditional practice. Devi Singh, 32
belonging to the Bhilala tribe, and inhabiting the Dehrikheda village in
Kathiwada block of Alirajpur depicts tribal folklore through Pithora works.
Having received various trainings from Hastashilp Evam Hathkargha Vikas Nigam –
a Government of Madhya Pradesh undertaking, Devi Singh and other artisans have
now become master trainers of this exotic art originating from the hinterlands
without frames is priced at Rs 500- 600, and prices vary depending on the
socio-economic context of markets. Realizing the livelihood advantage
associated with Pithora art, Singh and his family now practice this art form on
floor, paper, walls, cloth, canvas and wood. During weddings in the village,
classic derivations of Pithora work as wall décor with mud and white paints is
seen vividly in homes.
Pithora forms an
important medium of expression and contributes to history and heritage as these
paintings are a repository of tribal heritage. Artists through this traditional
occupation, carry forward a rich tribal lineage of the Bhilalas, and therefore
contribute to indigenous knowledge and market capital by creating platforms of
accessibility and entrepreneurship in these regions which are usually marred by
infrastructural and market constraints.