Pithora Tribal Art of Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh

Arts, Painting, Endangered Crafts, Tribal Crafts

Pithora Tribal Art of Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh

Pithora painting is a widely famous style of traditional art form in Madhya Pradesh where figures are painted on the wall. It is practiced by the Bhil and the Bhilala tribes of the state and the Rathwa tribe of eastern Gujarat. Practitioners of this craft are found in Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh. Figures are simple rendered with white color with no ornamentation. The one who paints and creates this art is referred to as Likhandra. Scenes of harvesting, fertility of land, festivals, childbirth and various other mythological themes like the wedding of God Pithoro and Goddess Pithori are depicted  in these paintings.

Often Pithora paintings are considered to be sacred. Baba Pithora is the God who is worshiped to heal illness and undo bad omens. After worshipping, a painting has to be made at the main wall of the house, in consultation with the tantricLikhandra is invited to paint these paintings with brushes made out of khakhra (Buteamonosperma) stems.The area which has to be painted is first purified, followed by the lighting of lamps and prayers offered to gods. He works from dawn to dusk without missing a single detail. Completion of the painting it followed by singing and dancing.

Colors are made naturally like white is made from lime, green from sanguan leaf extract, black from lampblack, red from sindoor and vermilion. All of this is mixed with oil in a douna/smallbowl, which is made up of khakhra leaves. Frequently used motifs of Pithora paintings are the kathiyaghoda (black horse with rider), followed by four white horses facing each other, a two-headed mare of the gods of rain clouds, animals, bowri (the step well), women churning butter, trees, sun and moon and chinnala represented by copulating couple. These paintings were traditionally done walls, but nowadays canvas is used to depict this art. Brushes and bamboo sticks are used to make these beautiful paintings.