Gond Paintings

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Origin

The Gonds, are the largest Adivasi Community in India and are Dravidian's whose origin can be traced to the pre-Aryan era. The Gonds are among the largest tribes in Central India, numbering about 4 million. Though predominantly centered in Madhya Pradesh, they are present in significant numbers in the states of Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh and Odisha.

 

The word Gond comes from Kond, which means green mountains in the Dravidian idiom. The Gond called themselves Koi or Koiture. Their language is related to Telegu and other Dravidian languages. About half of Gonds speak Gondi languages, while the rest speak Indo - Aryan languages including Hindi.

 

Beliefs

The Gonds paint their walls with vibrant depictions of local flora, fauna and gods such as Marahi Devi and Phulvari Devi (Goddess Kali). Traditionally made on festive occasions such as Karwa Chauth, Diwali, Ashtami and Nag Panchmi, Gond painting depicts various celebrations, rituals and man’s relationship with nature. 

 

Gond art comes with the belief that a good image brings good luck. This inherent belief led the Gonds to decorate their houses and floors with traditional tattoos and motifs. Today, Gond art products such as Gond painting on wood, painted wooden trays and boxes have become extremely popular globally.

 

Sources of Inspiration

According to the Gond belief system, each and everything whether it is a hill, river, rock or a tree is inhabited by a spirit and, consequently, is sacred. So the Gond people paint them as a form of respect and reverence. Gond paintings are a reflection of man’s close connection with his natural surroundings. 

 

However, while a majority of Gond paintings are inspired by nature, it isn’t the only source of inspiration. Gond paintings can also take inspiration from myths and traditions of India or alternatively, they may also showcase images from the daily lives of the tribe meaning abstract concepts like emotions, dreams and imagination.

 

Style

Gond paintings can best be described as ‘on line work’. The artist makes sure to draw the inner as well as outer lines with as much care as possible so that the perfection of the lines has an immediate effect on the viewer. Lines are used in such a way that it conveys a sense of movement to the still images. Dots and dashes are added to impart a greater sense of movement and increase the amount of detail.

 

Another very striking facet of Gond paintings has to be the use of bright vivid colours such as white, red, blue and yellow. The paints are usually derived naturally from objects such as charcoal, coloured soil, plant sap, leaves and even cow dung.

 

More specifically, yellow from Chui mitti which is a type of local sand, brown from Gheru mitti which is another type of sand, green is readily procured from leaves while the colour red is obtained from the Hibiscus flower.

 

Innovation

Modern Gond paintings aren’t painted on walls and floors and are instead painted on canvas. This makes sure that it is not only much easier to transport, carry and hang on a wall, but the use of canvas helps the paintings to stand out much more than it would if it were made on a wall. 

 

Due to the scarcity of natural colours in the current age, Gond artists have started to use poster colours. This combined with the use of canvas has made modern Gond paintings much more vivid than its traditional counter parts.

Interesting Facts

1. The Pardhan Gonds are also are accomplished singers and many paintings are visual depictions of these songs.

2. Gond paintings are popularly drawn during major festivals like Holi, Diwali, etc.

3. Gond paintings are of such a good quality that it isn’t uncommon for them to last 20 years or so, without any external tampering. 

4. It is said that Gond paintings resemble aboriginal art from Australia.

5. Gond paintings have also become quite common on wooden trays, boxes and other miscellaneous objects which have helps to increase its popularity and spread awareness.

 

 

About Author

Trishna is a Bsc (in Life Sciences) and MBA (in Marketing) by qualification but an artist by choice. A self-taught artist, Trishna and has been practising art for over 14 years now. After a stint with reputed corporates, she found her true calling in her passion, that is painting.

 

Trishna is now a full-time professional painter pursuing her passion to create and explore to the fullest. She says, "It’s a road less travelled but a journey that I look forward to everyday." Trishna also conducts painting workshops across Mumbai.