The Foot Soldiers of Indian Paintings

India is a diverse country that homes different types of religions and cultures. Each of the tribes, castes, races, etc, have tried their best to maintain and preserve their cultural identity. The ability of an individual to recognize himself with a community or class of people which he acknowledges is different from others is identity. This process of recognition could be based upon factors relating to anatomy or thoughts.

In a similar fashion, tribes in different parts of India have put their sincere efforts in preserving their cultural identity by not abandoning them as many of us already have. These people are foot soldiers of traditional Indian paintings. They have chosen the wisdom of their forefathers over other luxuries they might have received if they would have decided to not to follow their ancestral work of making paintings.

Indian paintings

Because of their efforts traditional and folk art of India have survived the tides of time. Now, the time has come when we acknowledge their efforts and give them a chance of sustaining their lives by turning what they have into a means of livelihood.

Unfortunately, these artists have to work for long hours and they can barely meet both ends despite giving their best. It is an irony that these people who breathe life into a part of a national identity suffer gravely. The jovial and bright features of traditional Indian paintings have always attracted foreigners and millennials. But, because of many intermediaries, they receive less share in the proceeds from sales of their paintings. Because they mainly live in remote parts, they can’t reach the buyers themselves.

This problem is faced by almost every indigenous traditional or folk artist. Many art forms are not recognized and appreciated. Due to this fact, practicing these don’t come with promising prospects. For instance, Gond and Warli forms of paintings have entered the national art market. Their transformation in line with the contemporary culture has boosted their sales and garnered acceptance across all classes of art collectors. People are now ready to buy them at high prices. But, many artists don’t share the same fate.

#Do Right: Ray of light for Raghurajpur

Raghurajpur is a village that is famous for being the brooding center for budding Pattachitra artists- the tribal art form of Odisha. Here, every individual is an artist and every home like a studio for artists. This art form traces its provenance to the 5th century B.C.E. The main motifs of the art are from traditional folklore, myths, and religion. Other forms of art of Odisha are also practiced at Raghurajpur that are equally aesthetically pleasing such as:-

  • Tal Chitra
  • Silk painting
  • Stone carving
  • Coconut painting
  • Betel nut painting
  • Paper-mache & masks
  • Cowdung toys
  • Ganjappa playing cards.
  • The process of making a Pattachitra

An intensive process is followed for preparing the canvas for Pattachitra paintings. The material is known as a Patta which translates as a leaf in English. The material is designed to imitate a leaf. After making outlines, that material is filled with colors that are obtained from nature like extracts from the bark of a tree flower, or leaves. The patters are intricate and a piece of artwork may take a minimum of 5 to 15 days to complete. If the artwork is big, then it may take months in completion. Prices of these paintings may vary from Rs 500 to Rs 2 lacs depending upon the size of the painting, the design that has been drawn, the intricacies of the pattern that are incorporated, etc.

In the year 2000, The Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage knew as INTACH, declared it as a heritage village. It has been granted recognition by the United Nations. This has helped the villagers in many ways. Tourists and art collectors visit this place and buy art directly from the artists. This eliminates the role of an intermediary in the act of buying or selling the artwork. Often these artists sell their artworks at heavy discounts when they don’t get the sales. The Government of India has launched many schemes through which they can benefit through the Ministry of arts and culture.

One of the initiatives has given them a ray of hope. The younger generations are open to new options and they are planning to go digital. They want to have a dedicated website for their Pattachitra paintings. Whosoever wants to buy these Indian paintings may do so directly, they are just waiting for the funds to grow with the help of #DoRight Initiative.

With their efforts and our dedication towards the promotion of Indian Paintings, they can reach on a higher pedestal and get both national and international recognition. We salute these foot soldiers of Indian Art.