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pithora art

Background

Etymology: There isn’t a particular source or fact that definitively explains the meaning of Pithora paintings, but this topic is among the most famous in 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, 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. 

History

Significance:Pithora is primarily practiced by the Rathwa and Bhilala tribes, who approach these paintings with a strong focus on rituals rather than pure artistry. The young unmarried girls within the community participate in preparing the walls. After they are married, they transfer these materials from their father’s house to their marital home.

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 gods grant their wishes, they express their gratitude by painting Pithora art on the three inner walls of their houses as a symbol of thanksgiving.

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. 

Pithora blogs