India is a fusion of diverse cultures and vibrant art forms. Our culture and art have evolved over the years. If we talk about the art forms of India, many thrived, but few indigenous art forms are struggling for their existence.
In this article, Rooftop focuses on a less promoted art form- Saura art, which is massively overshadowed by its popular twin- Warli art.
Saura art originates from the beautiful state of Odisha, nestled in the eastern part of the country. Various tribal communities call this place their home. The Sauras are one of them who are known for their strikingly detailed art.
Customs are similar across tribes, and differences can be primarily attributed to regional specificities. All tribes generally depend on nature for their everyday activities, including household chores, livelihoods, and entertainment. Although they worship it in many forms, they also revolve their daily existence around it.
Sauras, who live in hilly and densely forested terrain, are no different. Their art reflects their way of living and is thus named after the community. These art practices are passed on from generation to generation.
Saura art has always been misidentified with its identical twin Warli art of Maharastra. Though they have different motifs, patterns, and traditions, both art forms share common traits.
Features Of Saura Art
In the past, the Saura artists use rice powder and cow dung mixture to tone their canvases. As paintbrushes, they used bamboo sticks. But now have recently switched to acrylic paint and a thin brush for commercial purposes.
Their stunningly detailed murals, called ikons or ekons, depict their deities, the Idital (the guardian deity). The intention was to please and appease the Gods to protect their families from harm and illness through their artwork.
Style Of Saura Art
It appears that Saura is identical to Warli at first glance. It is often impossible to distinguish the two art forms by their geometrical shapes and earthen colours. However, there are subtle differences between the two, from their composition to their placement, which make them both distinct!
Similar to Warli artists, Saura artists draw humans with triangle bodies and round or oval heads with stick-like arms and legs. Saura figures, however, lack a neck, whereas Warli figures do. Animals range from triangular to rectangular shapes with skeletal heads, while the birds are similar to their Warli friends.
In Warli paintings, characters are spread out on a two-dimensional plane, while in Saura’s paintings, human and animal figures are huddled together within the frame of the canvas. The Saura artists also do not differentiate between men and women, unlike the Warli.
With themes like trees, animals, and tribal people, Saura’s paintings portray the glory of nature. There is a beautiful recurring motif in this art, ‘The Tree of Life. The artists depicts the tree branches as the home for forest animals, drew small clay huts, and people engaged in daily activities, such as women with pots and their children and men rearing livestock.
The Global Standing Of Saura Art
As the 21st century progressed, Saura’s art underwent many changes. It began as murals on mud walls but now appears everywhere, from sarees, and handbags to notebooks and mobile covers. Recent years have also seen Saura art gain decorative value, with many people buying it as decor items for their homes.
Besides acrylics, Saura artists have also begun experimenting with pen and ink, on paper and canvas. Another exciting development in Saura art is the subtle integration of modern elements into the imagery and subjects depicted. In other Indian tribal art styles, this trend is also noticeable.
In addition to its historical significance and eye-catching images, Saura art is also fascinating to look at, as it is the voice of a tribe telling us its own story in an authentic and unique way. Adding so much richness to India’s cultural tapestry, Saura is one of India’s most intriguing tribal art forms that needs recognition in the global market.