Bastar Art- The Patrimony of Tribal Craftsmanship

Bastar Arts

Bastar Wooden Handmade Art (reflecting local mythology, rituals and folklore in exquisite shapes and forms)

Bastar, a district in the state of Chhattisgarh in Central India, has been a closed book to the contemporary world outside its fence- hidden beneath thick groves, housed in the lap of nature, off the map since overlapping centuries. It treads along its boundaries as an ostracised kid in the playground awaiting its turn on the swing of due recognition. But the outside world wasn’t eager to hold hands with tribals, the upper-class elites rigid in their ignorant views on the traditional confinement of their education. The tribal regions have been neglected in their pursuit of cultural ideologies failing to please the modernising shores of contemporary walls. Their art has been debarred from their privileged lifestyles fixated on their opinion of the tribals as primeval people with a dearth of cultural development. Such disregard and insensitivity towards tribals left the world oblivious of their cultural bequest. 

Bastar Bell Metal Art

Bastar tribal art, a misinformed art form, is in a continuous effort to pave its way to modern society, fueled through the support of global recognition, cultural enthusiasts and travellers adamant on making the ingenuity of these communities known to those robbed of the knowledge of their artistic legacy.

Bastar Bamboo Art

The tribal communities of Bastar have been preserving their colossal ideologies, religious beliefs, unearthed traditions and simple lifestyles into woodwork, bamboo art, soil art and metal artworks. Due to the lack of wider recognition, this rare art passed from one generation to another, has only been subjected to the crowds of weekly haats and street markets of Chhattisgarh. Owing to their speciality of rejecting machinery and honouring their skills to conventional tools, wooden statues of festival depictions, bamboo chairs, baskets and mats, decorative soil vases and household furnishings and infamous idols of tribal culture and worship carved out of metal, are now crawling up in decorative corners of the upper-class living rooms adding a touch of cultural heritage to their homes.

Tribal Textiles of Bastar

The artefacts are a reflection of tribal lifestyle and traditions and thus continues to attract art enthusiasts from across the borders for their precision and skill. The Dhokra technique uses cow dung, paddy husk, beeswax and wax wires in preparation of their genius art. Their Terracotta art carved out of the finest clay from the streams of Indravati, decorates tables with idols of fauna from their natural habitat. The bronze handicrafts are crafted from the very popular and ancient vanishing wax technique while the appealing work on cotton fabric referred to as Bastar Kosa drapes you in handprints of natural dyes.

Bastar Art Painting on the streets of Raipur, Chhattisgarh

Bastar art, despite being in rising demand throughout India and abroad, has still been unable to flourish its craftsmen out of poverty due to a lack of direct marketing channels and exploitation by the middlemen, failing to keep them from being able to recover from the harsh economic conditions. The museumisation of selective crafts have deprived them of financial growth in their daily lives and these words are merely an attempt to bring their age-old techniques of art into the limelight and ensure them a future for their patrimony protected since times immemorial.

Resham Sharma

#BastarArt #TribalFolkart

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