Pithora Cover

pithora art


Etymology: There isn’t one source or fact that indicates the meaning of the Pithora paintings, but this is among the most famous topic of mythology and legends. 

Origin: Pithora paintings are made by the Rathwa community who originally dwelled in ‘Rath Vistar’ of Madhya Pradesh and later migrated to Gujarat.

Location: The Rathwa tribe is spread in multiple districts of Gujarat, namely, Panchmahal, Vadodara, Chotta Udaipur, and Dahod, and on the borders of Madhya Pradesh. 

Relevance: These paintings are essentially a means to invoke ‘Baba Pithora’ or ‘Babo Pithoro’, who is their most important God. Pithora paintings are primarily created by the Rathwa and Bhilala tribes currently.  They also make these paintings to welcome prosperity, safety, and good health. The completion of the Pithora paintings is celebrated with ceremonies. These paintings are made under the supervision of a priest who sings hymns to bless and protect the wall painting and artists from evil spirits.


Significance: Since it’s an art form that is mainly practised by the Rathwa and Bhilala tribes, who are highly ritualistic perform these paintings which are more ritualistic than artistic. The young unmarried girls of the community help prepare the walls. Once they are married, they take these materials from their father’s house to the house they’re married in. 

Culture and Societies: In the Rathwa tribe, the priest or ‘Badwa’ supervises the Pithora paintings, and the artist who paints these designs is called ‘Lakhara’, while the lakharas paint, the badwas chant and sing.

Religious significance: The Rathwas are heavily influenced by their mythology and it reflects in their rituals, ceremonies, beliefs, and art practices.  When their god grants their wish, they paint pithora art on the three inner walls of their houses as a symbol of thanksgiving and gratitude.

Understanding the Art

Style: The entire painting is framed and represents a sacred enclosure. There are two types of Pithora paintings, ‘ardho pithoro’ which has five to nine horses with no riders and the other one is ‘akho pithoro’ which has eighteen horses with riders. 

Central motifs: The motifs are linked to their mythology and folktales. Elephants and horses with gods are painted along with ‘Pithora’ and ‘Pithori’.

Image Source: Flickr

New Outlook

Pithora designs are nowadays printed on textiles and are exhibited as wall hangings. Contemporary symbols and elements such as railway tracks, buses, aeroplanes, and computers are now incorporated into their visual vocabulary.