Artforms from the heart of india: Bastar


Bastar is a region in central India with a rich history and culture. The region is home to many tribes, each with their own distinct language, customs, and traditions. 

Bastar is also well-known for its arts and crafts. The artforms of Bastar include traditional painting, metalwork, woodwork, weaving, and pottery. These artforms are characterized by bold colors, intricate patterns, and beautiful designs. 

In recent years, the artforms of Bastar have gained popularity outside of the region. Due to the increasing demand for Bastar’s arts and crafts, many tribes have begun to sell their work to tourists and collectors.

If you are interested in learning more about Bastar and its artforms, then this blog is for you!

The Pitwa Craft of Bastar

The metal craft of Bastar is especially noteworthy due to its long and storied history, and is believed to have been developed over centuries.

The craftsmen of Bastar use a number of techniques to create their work, including etching, engraving, and repoussé.

The most popular form of metal craft in Bastar is working with brass. This is a lengthy process, beginning with the melting of the raw brass, and then carefully molded.
After that, the brass is subjected to a chemical etching process, allowing the craftsmen to create intricate patterns and designs that are not possible with traditional methods.

The artforms of Bastar are also commonly used for religious ceremonies and celebrations. Brass art objects can be seen hanging from ceilings in temples, and religious icons.

Overall, the metal craft of Bastar is an important part of the region’s culture and history. Being a unique art form it is worth appreciating and preserving for future generations.

Wrought Iron Table top from Coshal


The Wooden Craft of Bastar

Wooden craft is another type of art that is prevalent in Bastar. These crafts are made by the skilled hands of carpenters and wooden craftsmen who create a vast range of distinctive items such as furniture and decorative pieces.

The craft is known as Chitrakar in the local Bastar dialect, in reference to the many intricate patterns and designs that make up these works. The carpenters etch, cut and chisel out intricate patterns and designs that are typically inspired by tribal art and nature.

Wooden figures are usually carved from light woods such as juniper and sandalwood.

Some of the works produced from wood are painted or decorated with various colors and paints, adding to their grandeur.

Wooden craft is used in various occasions from weddings to religious ceremonies. Wooden objects are also crafted for various home decorations, such as furniture, lamps, doors, and even toys. 

These works of art have provided an economic boost for the people of Bastar and the surrounding area, allowing them to make a living off of their skill and craftsmanship.
Wooden Tealight Holder from Coshal

The Terracotta Craft of Bastar

The artform of terracotta craft is highly popular in Bastar, which is believed to have its roots in ancient tribal art. 

Terracotta figures are created by shaping moist clay into various figures and then baking them in a kiln at high temperatures making them hard and enduring.

The most famous terracotta craft in Bastar is the Pithora painting of ancient deities, which is believed to ward off evil and attract good luck. These figures often depict a variety of characters from tribal mythology such as Gond Devata, a semi-divine ancestor of the Gond tribes, or Dharna Devi, the goddess of snakes. 

Not just limited to religious figures, the technique has also been used to produce everyday items like home décor, jewelry, garden decorations and toys. These pieces are tough and vibrant, making them a great addition to any home or garden.
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The Warli Art of Bastar

The Warlis of Bastar are an ancient tribal group with an art form of their own. The Warli paintings traditionally depict everyday life and culture such as hunting, fishing, and tribal ceremonies.

Warli art is found in the form of wall paintings throughout Bastar, Maharashtra and Gujarat. This art form is symbolic of the Warlis’ beliefs in fertility, that is, anything that grows. It is also found in the form of large murals which can reach up to 20 feet in height.

The Warlis generally draw circles and triangles in black and white, representing the circle of life and the elements of nature. They then fill the space using bright but subtle colours, akin to the colourful nature of the region. 

The Warli paintings are famed for their simplicity and authenticity. The art is carried through generations and continues to evolve. Today, it is evident in works of contemporary art, home décor and fashion.

This art form is an essential testament to the cultural richness of the Warli tribe and speaks to the broader history and customs of Bastar.

Warli painted Tealight Holder from Coshal


The Dhokra Art of Bastar

The art of dhokra is a well-known craft form in Bastar, where metal sculptures are made by casting. Dating back to around 2000 BC, the technique is still used today by the artists of Bastar to create elegant and detailed figures.

Artists first create an outline of a figure from wax and then the molten metal is poured over it. As the metal hardens it forms a cast, making the figure sturdy and durable.

Dhokra sculptures from Bastar frequently feature traditional tribal patterns and ancient designs. These sculptures have become popular amongst local and international art collectors.

The art of dhokra is a unique and mesmerizing craft. The skill and precision of the artists of Bastar showcase the incredible talents and culture of this region. It is one of the oldest techniques of metal sculpture still in practice today.
Dhokra Deer set Tabletop from Coshal

To conclude

From beautiful paintings to intricate sculptures, Bastar’s artforms capture the imagination and transport us back in time, allowing us to explore the ancient and fascinating culture of the region. This makes them an invaluable part of our heritage, and they should be appreciated and preserved for many years to come.

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