Rooftop – Where India Inspires Creativity

bhil art


Etymology: The Bhils of Rajasthan are the second-largest tribal community in India. They were appointed as ‘Shikaris’ (hunters) by the Rajputs and are also regarded as the fighter or warrior tribe of Mewar.

Origin: The Bhils are an agricultural community and their entire lives revolve around their farms. Land is an intrinsic aspect of their artistic practice which is reflected in their artworks.

Location: The areas of occupancy of the Bhil tribe stretch from Madhya Pradesh to Gujarat, and from Maharashtra to Rajasthan, although the larger part of the community is from Rajasthan. 

Relevance: Since the Bhils are an agricultural community, their art is a direct reflection of their lifestyle and daily practices as they extensively use materials such as clay, vegetables, spices, and oils in the painting process.


Significance: The majority of the Bhils reside in areas in Rajasthan. They believe in forest spirits/deities, and evil spirits are part of their tribal folklore. What’s notable is that they were once a nomadic tribe but now follow an agrarian lifestyle.

Culture and Societies: Bhils are a ritualistic tribe and their art form is transgenerational, wherein the mothers pass it down to their children. They are also a highly superstitious group. 

Religious significance: Stories on religious epics, myths, tribal folklore, animistic creatures are some of the major themes of Bhil art.

Understanding the Art

bhil art

Style: The subjects for these paintings are stylised and surreal. The shapes and creatures are inspired by everyday characters,  mythology, religion, and folklore. Every artist’s rendition is unique and their varied use of dotted patterns creates their identity as a Bhil artist.

Central motifs: Depiction of their ancestors and deities, animals, insects, festivities, sun and the moon, legends and lore, births and deaths, and religious occasions.

new outlook

Many Bhil artists now display their artwork internationally. The shift in their art practice started when they chose canvas over clay surfaces and acrylics instead of natural dyes. They even started portraying modern elements such as buses and wove other contemporary themes in their traditional narratives. Through the changes in mediums and themes, the way they choose to tell their stories has remained unchanged.

Bhil Art blogs