Live Demonatration of Tribal Arts and Crafts

Banita Behera

While looking at craft an obvious question arises out of curiosity which sometime remains unanswered. Question possibly may be how this thing came in-to existence? How this thing was made and who made it? The indigenous tribal people of India along with their culturally rooted aesthetic principles and associated moral and religious values emphasize their craft as a unique one. As an innate and inseparable part of culture and society, the art and craft produced is styled in culturally patterned ways. There are many traditional art and crafts of tribal people, which are now on the verge of extinction. It is need of the hour to preserve and revive their culture which is gradually decoying. A Whole hearted effort is to be made by adopting various measures and technologies to preserve and revive it or else this great cultural tradition will be buried under the sandy-shore of time. The income generating activities should not cause the tribals to migrate to urban centers where the urban infrastructures has no space for these people, nor does the caste-bound society gives any social respect to them. Craft demonstration, craft mela, tribal artist camp are such unique programmes which are now promoted by both govt. and non-governmental organizations to promote the craftsmanship along with their craft. The aim of such programme is to uplift the tribal who have been facing acute poverty, land alienation problems, lack of livelihood  opportunities, food insecurity, health problems etc and to bring the tribal artisans on a par with the general population. The art and craft of the tribal are extremely gratifying in the most contemporary artistic  sense where tribal art steps out of the pure and confirmed ritual sphere to give voice to concerns such as urban encroachment, violence  participated by the state and the influence of modern technology. some of the tribal art and crafts need some exposure in the global market for the sustainability. following are the example of some tribal arts and crafts. 
 Tribal Painting

Since time immemorial the available valuable remaining graphical drawings and paintings designed by man in prehistoric caves and rock shelters depicts the human expression of thought and thinking. Painting among the tribal people are the virtual showcases accentuating their ritualized lives, customs and tradition. Among the Saora tribes of Odisha wall painting is a sacred enclosure to pay respect to their ancestral sprits God and Goddesses, Whereas the Warli painting is a common practice among the Warli community of Maharashtra during auspicious times like wedding and installation of their deity etc. Traditionally the concept of paintings among the tribal communities was only a partial activity of the specific persons of their communities. But now because of great value of such paintings these genuine talents are replaced to common one by commercial substitutes.

The Lanjia Saora painters
A Rathwa painter
The Bhill painters

Siali fiber craft of Mankidia

The Birhors of Jharkhand Popularly known as Mankidia tribe in Odisha. These primitive people are  very fine craft makers. They use locally available siali creepers as raw material which is abundant throughout the year. These forest people, by collecting Siali fiber/creeper from nearly forest, process it and make various carrying net, monkey catching traps, oil extractor basket, cow ropes, bags etc for various utility.
The siali craft of Mankidia

Paddy craft of Bhottara
The paddy craft made by the Bhottara tribe of Odisha is a well renowned craft of Odisha. The Bhottaras by carefully knitting the each piece of un-husked paddy to the next with different colored thread into a fine split of bamboo and make chains to prepare small figures of Goddess Laxmi, Goddess Saraswati, Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra, Goddess Subhadra, Lord Hanuman, Goddess Durga and Lord Vishnu. Besides, they have also show their mastery over the craft by making the several decorative things according to the market demand. 

A Bhottara artist doing paddy craft                             
A Bhottara woman with her paddy crafts
Embroidery work:

Since living in a close harmonious nature the tribal have developed a natural art with them. Embroidery work of the tribal communities is such an art where we can find a theme in the colors and designs directly resembles. With the help of sharp needle work, the Dongria Kondh women and Toda women shows their extremely good skill in embroidery which is a pattern of their aesthetic sense and nature influenced.

Dongria Kondh lady doing embroidery

Dongria kondh girl doing embroidery 

Traditional weaving:
Weaving tradition among the tribal people is an indispensible work of women in their social life. In Manipur a girl without the knowledge of weaving is considered to be immature to attain a married life, whereas the weaving of Ringa (loin cloth of women) among the Bonda tribe of Odisha bears a mythical value behind it. It is because of these great traditions that the tribal and folk people of Manipur and Bonda of Odisha are well identified with their unique dress, color, and patterns. Weaving in every household of Manipur is prepared with the help of simple strap-loom , whereas the Bonda tribe practice it with the help of a pit-loom. 

A Bonda woman weaving Ringa in a pit-loom

A Kom women with her strap-loom

 Being a National museum of Mankind IGRMS is sporadically organizing such type of craft mela, demonstration programmes in different states to make alive the different culturally vibrant crafts which are on the brink of evaporation. 'The National Live Demonstration Programme on Tribal arts and crafts' at Bhubaneswar which was held from 1st-10th June 2012 for 10 days in the complex of Museum of tribal Arts and Crafts, Bhubaneswar, was the first attempt of IGRMS to introduce the inter-state craft making techniques of other tribal communities among the Odisha tribes collaboratively with SCSTRTI, Bhubaneswar. 
Around 32 artists from different tribal communities and states except Odisha were invited by IGRMS, Bhopal having artistic skill on different craft. Gond and Bhill painters from Madhya Pradesh, Rathwa painters from Gujarat, Kotta craft artisans from Tamil Nadu, basket weavers from Manipur, Muria painters from Bastar, Weavers from Manipur, and Toda embroidery artisans from Tamil Nadu participated in the demonstration programme to show the mastery over their concerned craft.

These artisans were invited with an apparent motive to encourage their economic activity through a collective mode by creating integrated links. Each of the tribal artisans has their great importance with nature and culture, and their habits are really humble and affable in such a way to be appreciated. The weavers from Manipur, one among them enthralled the visitor with all of their beautiful traditional weaving techniques.

The sharing of ideas and enormous interests of the artisans to learn and to share their own ideas and techniques with other communities is the unusual achieved output of this programme. The Interactive session was also organised where participants interacted with the resource persons invited by the co-organizers. This collaborative exercise has given them full support to demonstrate their skills of craftsmanship by using locally available materials and input of the innovative ideas through mutual interactions.

Maring artists learning paddy craft 
A paite artist learning siali craft 
A Paite artist learning bead knitting. 
To create a sustainable atmosphere for these diminishing craft and culture a chain should be developed between the artisans and the global market through the government or non-government organization with minimized or no mediators resulting in profitable transactions. This session stressed on the need for promotion of tribal art and crafts and their sustainable development. 
*Based on the research work of the author 


Anonymous said...

Good to see(read) the contents therein. A superb attempt to showcase the traditional paintings & craft materials prepared/ processed indeginously.It is again trying to portray the priceless heritage that our state/country is famous for, as is an embodiment of the cumulative beauty in the national platform. I would expect the continuance & the enrichment of the blog. It always fascinates me since the time I was a student of Anthropology. Unfortunately I lost the tempo in appreciating the value over a long period, but I love to be identified as an anthropologist than any other(by profession)
-Arabinda Routray

Sarabjeet Singh said...

Very well done Banita madam, very appreciable work done,this type of information is not available in books, thanks to anthropologists/museum experts like you who takes personal interest to promote tribal art and craft. Very well done Banita Madam. I hope and expect more valuable and informative posts from you. keep posting.:)

Shakmacha Nongmaithem said...

very informative article.


interesting work of Museum. well done