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Chittara Murals – Languish Craft of Indian Customs

Chittara Murals - Languis art

The Chittara Mural artform, established by the Deevaru Community, is a traditional phenomenon that involves intricate stories and geometric patterns. The Kannada word ‘Chittara’ means design or image. Historically, women of the Deevaru community in Karnataka’s Sagar district practised this art form. Chittara Murals would traditionally be painted on the outer walls of houses on auspicious occasions. In order to welcome the Gods before they descended onto earth during festivals and religious ceremonies such as weddings.

Chitrana (Chittara) is a tribal art form from Karnataka. The women of the Deevaru community create these murals. It is a decorative art form which painted on paper as weel as on walls, floors, and furniture. Homely sources such as ground white rice and at times flour, make the white pigment which is a dominant colour in these paintings.Seldom colourful pigments make their way in these murals. These vibrant stains are usually a product of natural resources such as turmeric powder and a mixture of lime powder and mud.

Lets further explore the nitty-gritty of the Chittara Murals with Rooftop. 

The Foundation of Chittara Murals

Chittara paintings have a long, mythical history. Its a myth that Lord Brahma, the ultimate creator of the universe, painted the first image of earth. And also that he designed an image of himself and other elements for his followers to worship. These symbols and iconographies are a huge part of the chittara paintings.

Chittara Murals
Image Credits: Twitter (1); Indian Folk Art (2)

Factually, the history of Chittara Murals remains untraceale . Although, another myth states that it originates from cave paintings, from 9000 year ago. And later made a shift from cave walls to the walls and floors of village homes. The word Chittara in the Kannada dialect stands for an image or design. Historically, this ancient art form is exclusively painted by women of the Deevaru community in the Sagar district of Karnataka. The chitrakars created these images on auspicious occasions on the interiors and exteriors of the home. This art form has been a part of the Deevaru community for over 500 years. It is now honing recognition as one of more flourishing art styles of South India.

Colours Of Chittara

The prominent and natural colours used in Chittara murals are white, black and red. The artists prepare the surfaces with a brownish-yellow colour. This earthy pigment is basically pound white rice and turmeric root powder mixed together. Once the base is ready, the artists prepare the stains to fill in. Since these pigments are originally in powder form, they have to make sure that the colours are applicable. They add water to achieve a thin paste-like consistency. The artists use a different brush for each colour when they paint the motifs. This helps to create a neat and clean design preventing the mixing of colours.

In these contemporary times however, artists use synthetic and readily available colours as well. This saves them the time that it takes to horage and source them from distance places.

Chittara Murals
Image Credits: D’source (1); WordPress (2)

The red Chittara murals depict the scenes from Ramayana and Mahabharata. Multiple instances narrating his bravery and his reconcealation with Sita are greatly depicted.

Symbolism And Principles

All the stories, characters, and motifs of Chittara murals represent the traditional Indian culture. Chittara murals dawn straight lines that are constructed symmetrically, requiring an understanding of ratios and proportions. This art form involves a specific style of drawing that uses straight lines only, without curves or angles.

Chittara Murals
Image Credits: Devroye (1); Youtube (2)

Preserving The Chittara Murals Tradition

Transitioning from a traditional base to a digital one has been one of the many hurdles the artisans face today. The growing recognition for this art form, with the help of many homegrown organizations, helps. This exposure has enabled the women of the Deevaru community to display their creations in exhibits. They also participate in hosting workshops which only furthers the purpose to highlight this tribal art form. That being said, they also display their handicraft products in a plethora of shops across Bengaluru and Chennai.

Mrinalini Kulkarni from Bangalore has especially taken up commissioned projects for Chittara art. She applies these prints on wedding sarees and other garments. These unique patterns on home decor items and apparels have garnered international admirers from Geneva and France.

Transitioning from a traditional base to a digital one has been one of the many hurdles the artisans face today.

Fun fact of Chittara Murals
Image Credits: Art For Concern

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