Exploring Indigenous Art Forms of India

Indian culture and mythology is full of visual art which have helped in compelling storytelling for centuries. Many indigenous art forms can be found in our scriptures, story books and folktale comics. These local art forms have also adored our walls in the form of paintings, inspired texile designers and have been used in everyday merchandise.

The Artemist picks 5 indigeneous art forms:

  1. Gond Art

Gond art is a folk and tribal art that originated in Madhya Pradesh and then went on to regions of Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Chattisgarh and Orissa. Originally painted on wall surfaces with naturally derived colours by Gond tribes, these paintings are now done on paper or canvas with poster colours by modern gond artists.

Its theme is inspired from nature, trees, mountains, flowers, which is considered sacred and given respect and gratitude. Animal and mythical figures also form a part of these paintings. While most Gond artists use bright colors, some modern adaptations also have monochromes along with bright tones. Intricate dots and dashes are used in creating different repetitive patterns to bring flow and fill the primary outlines.

Intricate Gond Painting; Source: Deccan Herald
Tree Elephant Gond Painting

2. Rajput Painting

Rajput Paintings originated in the state of Rajasthan in the 16th-17th century. Their themes are rich in variety and include events and scenes from court life, battles, legendary stories, hunting scenes, wildlife, royal life, mythology, etc.  The Rajput Paintings became popular amongst rulers as it was a great artistic medium to display their bravery and achievements.

Influenced by Mughal Miniature style, miniatures in manuscripts were the preferred medium of Rajput painting, but many paintings were done on the walls of palaces and inner chambers of the forts. Most Rajput paintings available to us today are antique miniatures or modern adaptations of Rajput paintings.

18th century Rajput painting by Nihal Chand
Maharaja Procession
  1. Kalamkari

The word Kalamkari literally means pen art. These are hand painted or block printed on cotton and silk fabrics. Motifs drawn are flowers, peacocks, paisleys and characters of Indian epics. It originated in Andhra Pradesh as a form of story telling.

Earthy colors like indigo, mustard, rust, black and green are used in kalamkari art. Natural dyes are extracted from natural sources like pomegranate peels and jaggery.

Some fashion designers have revived this art by using them in their collections and helped the artisans sustain.

Kalamkari Peacock
Local Artisans Hand Painting a Kalamkari
  1. Madhubani

Madhubani painting originated in the Mithila Region of Bihar and Nepal. This painting is done with a variety of tools, including fingers, twigs, brushes, nib-pens, and matchsticks and using natural dyes and pigments. Its main character are the eye catching geometrical patterns and vibrant colours. Madhubani Art celebrates the nature, muthological characters, festivals and special occasions like weddings.

There paintings have a great export demand as they are grabbing eyeballs in the west due to their simple art of story telling. What started with women painting with chalk on mud walls has evolved into a recognized for of art now.

Depiction of Indian Mythology
Traditional Sun God Painting
  1. Kalighat Painting

Originated in the iconic Kalighat Kali Temple of Kolkata, they are painted on mill made paper with flowing brushwork and bold dyes.Kalighat paintings used to be sold to visitors as souvenirs from religious trips. As the art depicted Hindu Gods, religious themes and events. Eventually, the local artisans called patuas took them up as their daily occupation and depicted characters from everyday life in their paintings.

Jamini Roy is among some of the most acclaimed artists influenced by Kalighat style. This art form still continues to influence and charm artists and art lovers across the world.

Bride With Two Companions by Jamini Roy
A Tribal Family

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