What are the origins of Gond Art?

Gond Art

Gond Art is a folk & tribal art form practiced by arguably the largest tribe in Central India. The art form today is expanding many new horizons and has acquired a cult following in Indian art conoisseurs. The tribes involved in this art form predominantly hail from Madhya Pradesh and parts of Chattisgarh, Odisha, Andhra, Telengana & Maharashtra. Although we mainly associate it with these pockets but this art form with time has acquired a pan-Indian appeal and enhances the rich heritage India takes pride in. Let us discuss how this rich tradition grew.

From where it all started

The recorded history of Gond Art goes back to as many as 1400 years. The areas where we find its traces have also been identified with rock paintings from the Mesolithic age. Since there is a very evident stylistic and thematic influence of Mesolithic paintings in Gond Art, who knows probably their legacy dates back even further? The Gonds trace their roots back to the Pre-Aryan age and anthropological sources identify them as Dravidians. The dialect they speak is also heavily influenced by Telegu and other Dravidian languages.

Why Gond?

The word ‘Gond’ comes from ‘Kond’, in the Dravidian idiom which means “green mountains”. No wonder why nature is such an integral thematic & stylistic element in Gond Art with recurrent depiction of motifs like trees, leaves, animals, birds, fishes, fish scales, drops of water and primitive human figurines. Gond Arts’ existence is so much intertwined with nature that paintings for them are an offering to the worship of nature and a divine medium for seeking protection and warding off evil.

Values & beliefs:

The ‘Koi’ or ‘Koiture’, what the Gonds call themselves, traditionally hold the belief that good image begets good luck. This explains why Gond Art for the Kois wasn’t just a recreational pastime but a part of their lifestyle. They decorated walls and floors of their houses with traditional motifs and tattoos. The paintings were influenced by Mahari Devi, Phalvari Devi(Goddess Kali), local flora & fauna and were made on festive occasions like Karwa Chauth, Ashtami & Nag Panchami.

 Colours & painting style:

Gond painting  uses bright & vivid colours like yellow, red, blue and white. These days due to paucity of natural colours the Gond paintings we see are made by poster colours on canvas, however, traditionally the colours were derived from charcoal, coloured soil, plant sap, mud, flowers, leaves and cow dung. The extensive use of straight lines that we see in Gond Art are used to convey a sense of movement and add motion to the still paintings. The use of dots & dashes enhance the illusion of motion and increase the scope for depicting things in detail.

Gond Art in form and the range of subjects it derives its art out of celebrates the rich heritage of India. It is important that we promote it and reinvent it in our aesthetic choices and preferences. Artists like Suresh Kumar Dhurve,  Kalam Patua and Balua Devi through their paintings are taking this art form to a global platform. We have gained enough that the world has had to offer us, it’s high time that we now look within our rich and vibrant cultural heritage.



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