The tribal art of Bastar

A quiet and remote district in Chhattisgarh, Bastar is home to the most distinctive tribal communities of Gond, Maria, Bhatra and more. These ethnic groups comprise 70% of the district’s population but stay hidden in the shadows of the dense forests and grasslands, far from the prying eyes of the modern civilization. For a comfortable journey to this part of the country, book a cab in Raipur. But once you reach out to this amazing community and learn about their culture and tradition, you would be overwhelmed by their sense of artistry, aesthetics and skilled craftsmanship. The most popular of all tribal communities, is the Gond tribe, settled in Kondagoan and Jagdalpur.

The tribal art of Bastar, a dying art form, is finding its way back to the modern society, and being resurrected by global media, travel enthusiasts and adventurers, who have discovered the hidden potential of these indigenous people.  

Art and crafts of Bastar tribes

The true beauty of these ethnic art forms comes from the fact that they are made of all naturally sourced materials, found in the region – forests, mines and rivers. Bastar being a mining haven for iron ore, the tribal people mostly use iron and its scraps to make magnificent figurines, idols and more. The ethnic tribes of Bastar are among the first people to develop expertise in working with metal, along with various other kinds of handicrafts.

The most common art forms found in this district are:

Terracotta works

Terracotta crafts of Bastar are widely known. They are made with the finest quality of clay from the Indravati River, shaped into exotic forms and dried in the scorching summer sun, to render the best clay art you would have ever seen. Most of the terracotta works consist of votive animals that are locally found – elephants, deer, tigers, birds. Some communities also make decorative household items like oil lamps, candle holders, etc.

Bell metal crafts or Dhokra
One of the most unique kinds of traditional crafts of India, the Dhokra style involves molding and shaping bell metals into beautiful figurines, religious idols of local and mythology, and home décor items. Each and every piece is hand-made, using the vanishing wax system, and is characterized by fine metal pipes and wires, wound into spirals. Dhokra handicrafts are mostly found in Jagdalpur, Kondagaon and Narayanpur areas and is a traditional art form, passed down through generations.

Bamboo crafts
The dense wilderness of Bastar have abundance of bamboo forests which provide the perfect raw materials for bamboo handicrafts. The leaves are woven and made into mats and baskets, while the stem is cut and chiseled down to form knick knacks that depict local culture – fishing traps, hunting tools, lamps and baskets. Wall hangings made from bamboo reflect the stories of the tribes and their philosophies.

Cotton Fabrics
For the saree connoisseurs, Kosa saree is a familiar name. For those unaware, it’s a traditional textile, made from a silk-like worm, found in the wild of Bastar. It is then woven and dyed in the tribal homes, to give you the finest quality of fabric called Kosa, which is used for garments, upholstery and draperies.

Wood Craft
Home to finest quality Sal, Teak, and white wood, the forests around Bastar districts make for ample natural resource for exquisite wood crafts. Carved to perfection, the local tribes tell their tales on wooden wall décor, tribal gods and figurines. Also adding to the skilful artistry are small furniture, toys and artsy pieces.

A tour of the tribal communities of Bastar and their indigenous art forms, is undoubtedly an experience to cherish. When you book a cab with Savaari Car Rentals, you’ll be able to explore Bastar and the art that it offers till your heart’s content. And when you reach out to these ethnic people, you would feel a sense of nostalgia and a touch of your own roots, because, when something is hand-made by people in their homes, the consciousness with which it is made, is more significant than the thing itself.

Offbeat getaways in India: Chhattisgarh

India is a culturally diverse land known for accepting people with different ethnicities and histories. Even after 70 years of independence, one can find several indigenous tribes living peacefully and following their culture. One such state that is situated in the centre of India and which does not lack in diversity is Chhattisgarh. People in Chhattisgarh have still preserved their rich cultural legacy.

Image source: Wikipedia

Chhattisgarh has the largest tribal population in the country with more than 27 percent living in Bastar district. The tribal population also resides in the district of Dantewada and Jashpur. Both, the government and people put in a lot of efforts to preserve the traditional arts and craft. This is achieved primarily by still practising the art form and making concentrated efforts to encourage tourism. The state’s folk arts and performing arts are bound to give you a greater insight into the culture of this place. To fully explore the beauty and culture in the state, we suggest you book a taxi in Raipur and explore nearby.

Every tribe in Chhattisgarh is widely different in their way of life. Some of the tribes in the region include Kamar, Halba, Baiga, Pando, Binjhwar, Birhi, etc. The folk dance and art are a perfect mix of movement and harmonisation that gives us an incredible experience to cherish. Food, music, and dance are some of their interests that make their simple lives lovely and colourful.

Image source: Wikipedia

A few dance forms that every tourist should witness include Saila Dance, a dance performed by young boys after the harvest season. At the end of the performance, the participants are given paddy as a symbol of appreciation. Karma Dance form is associated with Karma festival and is performed to signify the end of monsoon. Pandavani dance is a musical presentation performed by tribes from Durg District portraying all the leading characters from the epic Mahabharata.

Panthi dance is the most prominent dance forms as it brings out the exact picture of the customs and tradition the tribes from Durg region. It is a ritual of Satnami community performed on the birth anniversary of Guru Ghasidas. Raut Nacha is a dance form performed by Cowherd in order to admire Lord Krishna. Soowa Nach is yet another form of dance performed by the females keeping a wooden parrot in the centre. It is performed on the occasion of Goura marriage.

Image source: Wikipedia

Bastar art and its artisans are renowned for their metalwork and terracotta ware. The extraordinary skills of Bastar tribes in making and designing authentic handicrafts, Dokra Craft, bamboo work, figures of terracotta, wood carvings, and clay pieces magnificently displays the creative ability of tribal artisans. Dokra being the most popular and the earliest known method of metal casting has discrete design and types. Dokra is an important part of the tribal culture that has received universal approval. This tribal art form indeed conserves the charisma of Chhattisgarh making it a perfect destination for the tourists to discover the yesteryear’s real India.

The state is also famous for its typical art forms like Loha shilp, terracotta pottery folk jewellery, wooden crafts, and traditional bamboo craft products. Loha Shilp is an exceptional art where the craftsman makes use of recycled scrap iron to make products like toys, deities, lamps, etc. If you’d like to go shopping for these indigenous items in Chhattisgarh, we recommend you rent a cab in Raipur. Terracotta pottery mostly signifies the rituals and the life style of tribes. Wood craft/carving has also gained importance over the years and a tribe named Badhais are skilled in this art. The rawness that Chhattisgarh disseminates warrants at least one visit to the magnificent state. Plan your trip now.

Happy Vacationing!