Gond painting is a tribal art form practiced by one of the largest tribes in India called Gond. The Gonds were the ruling class in many parts of Central India in the 14th century. Though these paintings are considered to be from predominantly from Madhya Pradesh, it is popular in other Indian states too.
The Pardhan Gonds are accomplished singers and story tellers. The Gond people have a belief that viewing a good image ushers good luck. That’s probably the reason these simple folk started making their own images or paintings. Gond people use earthy and bright colours to decorate the walls and the floor of their houses with traditional motifs. These paintings give a glimpse of tribal life.
A simple yet profound belief that inspires the Gond paintings as an art of reverence is that the spirit dwells in all creations seen around us – a mountain, river, rock or tree .These paintings are a reflection of man’s close connection with the immediate environment. Gond paintings are inspired by myths and legends of India or alternatively, they may reflect the daily routine of the tribal folk. It may depict emotions, dreams and imagination.
The Gond artist makes sure to draw the inner as well as outer lines with concentration and detail. Lines convey a sense of flow. Dots and dashes are added to impart a greater sense of movement and increase the amount of detail.
The colors used were extracted from charcoal, soil, leaves and even cow dung. For instance, yellow was obtained from Chui mitti (mitti means soil in Hindi) which is a type of local sand, brown from Gheru mitti, green from leaves while red is obtained from Hibiscus flowers. Artists have now stated using poster colors in their work. Black and white colors were not used earlier but modern Gond artists use all colors to create these paintings.
The first Gond artist to gain national recognition was Jangarh Singh Shyam .His sister in law Durgabahi is also a popular Gond artist. Durga was six years old when she started learning digna, a traditional art painted on the walls and floors during festivals, with natural colours. She enjoyed listening to stories and her art thus narrates stories of Gods, folklore.
Original native art forms have always drawn inspiration from Nature using natural colors. This shows the knowledge, the simple yet deep connect that tribal people shared with Nature and earth.
Blog published by: Ms. Jayanthi Sridhar, Teacher and Craft Hobbiyst, Bangalore, India
The Tree of Life – Gond Painting by Suresh Dhurve from http://www.sonalika.net