Gond Artist Paintings of Madhya Pradesh – Past, Present and Future
Gond painting is one of many varied art forms that will be a part of the Hands of Grace handicraft exposition at the Isha Yoga Center. In this article, we look at the past, present and future of Gond art. Adventurous readers may like to attend the workshop on Gond art at the exposition!
The Gonds are among the largest tribes in Central India, numbering about 4 million. Though predominantly centered in Madhya Pradesh, they are present in significant numbers in the states of Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh and Odisha. The word “Gond” comes from the Dravidian expression kond, meaning “the green mountain.” The recorded history of the Gond people goes back 1400 years, but considering that they inhabit areas where rock paintings dating to the Mesolithic have been found, their antecedents probably date back even further. Many of the Gonds customs echo that of their Mesolithic forbearers. An obvious example of this is the custom of decorating the walls of their houses, an activity that may originate in cave-dwelling traditions of their ancestors.
The word “Gond” comes from the Dravidian expression kond, meaning “the green mountain.” The work of Gond artists is rooted in their folk tales and culture, and thus story-telling is a strong element of every painting.
The Gonds paint their walls with vibrant depictions of local flora, fauna and gods such as Marahi Devi and Phulvari Devi (Goddess Kali). Traditionally made on festive occasions such as Karwa Chauth, Diwali, Ashtami and Nag Panchmi, Gond painting depicts various celebrations, rituals and man’s relationship with nature. The artists use natural colors derived from charcoal, colored soil, plant sap, leaves, and cow dung. This mystical art form is created by putting together dots and lines. The imaginative use of the line imparts a sense of movement to the still images. The paintings are an offering in worship of nature, and are also a mode of seeking protection and warding off evil.