India is a motherland of various cultures and folk art. Folk Art that traces back their lineage to thousands of years is found deep-rooted in the tribes and villages.  One such painting has its roots in a tribe called the Gond community of India. This painting gets its name from the same tribe where it originated i.e, Gond art. Rooftop takes an opportunity to take you on a guided tour of The Gond Painting.

Image Credits: Mayank Sharma – Sarmaya Arts Foundation

Gond Art: History & Origin

The word ‘Gond’ comes from the Dravidian Expression ‘Kond’ which means ‘green mountains’. One of the largest tribal communities of India namely Gond practises this. Secondly, it emerges from the Heart of Incredible India, Madhya Pradesh and it is also found in certain patches of Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, and Odisha. The lineage of Gond art is approximately 1400 years old. Finding its origins in the Mesolithic Period, Gond art is one of the many heritages of our country. ‘Gond’ or ‘Pardhan Art’ or ‘Jangarh kalam’ is a blend of patterns, mystery and vivid colours with a hint of humour and love for nature.

Salient Features of Gond Art

Gond art depicts the wild imagination of the artist by primarily using rich colours like yellow, orange, blue, green, and red. Carefully drawn lines and patterns bring the rest of the drawing to life. Gond art was an ode to the “Dharti Mata” or the mother Earth before sowing seeds. It is also a form of gratitude to Nature for being so kind and fertile. The birds, trees, animals and various natural elements show the relationship of man with nature and represent life in its numerous forms. 
Although this art is centuries old it has witnessed various transitions over the long passage of time. Gradually shifting from walls of houses to textile and now canvas and paper, it has imparted inspiration from the legends and Indian folklore.

Themes of Gond Art

Do you wonder why most of the Gond Art revolves around natural themes? It is because the Gond people believe that spirit inhabits every element of nature. Carving these living forms is a form of worship of their sacred value. These paintings depict the deep connection between the tribe and the spirits of nature. They represent the latest life of people, detailed narratives showcase the variety of emotions, dreams and imaginative theories. 

One of the key subjects of drawing is the lives of people, the Mahua Tree. This tree not only symbolises Life, but the fruits, flowers, seeds and leaves also serve many purposes. Paintings also picturise the local deities like Phulvari Devi, Jalharin Devi, and Marathi Devi.

Image credits: India Heritage Walks

Gonds art journey to the world’s top museums

Jangarh Singh Shyam, a world-famous Gond artist, used to draw on the walls of tribal huts. But his unwavering dedication to the heritage of Gond Art encouraged him to display this art in prestigious museums. Today, his family preserves his legacy.

Jangarh was a 17 – year Gond Pradhan when he drew an image of Lord Hanuman with lime and charcoal by hand on the humble red mud walls of a small hut, in a tiny village of, Patangarh, in Dindori District in Madhya Pradesh. Jagdish Swaminath, a well-known artist, was skimming through artworks to display in a multi-purpose art centre, Bharat Bhavan when he came across the painting of Lord Hanuman on the walls of a tribal home. It was he who discovered a pure and unadulterated talent of Jangarh Shyam.

Jangarh wrote a new chapter in the history of Indian tribal art. The galleries of Japan, the United Kingdom, Germany, France and the United States of America displayed the art of Jangarh.

Image Credits: Iteeha

Gond Art and Modern India

Today, Gond artists use poster colours and artificial paints to put their talent in the best depiction. Gond paintings are vibrant which makes them the supreme choice for the art enthusiast. Bharat Bhavan, in Bhopal, has mesmerising Gond portrayals. If you want to experience a more authentic touch, take a tour to Village Patangarh in Madhya Pradesh and witness the masterpieces depicted by the Gond Community.

Rooftop is taking various steps to serve as a platform for Gond Art. We host workshops and bring the world a little closer to Gond artists. In one of our workshops, Aatmaram Shyam, a Gond artist shared his journey and explained the art form in dept.

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