BHIL ARTIST of MADHYA PRADESH
video clip: Gangu Bai at IGRMS
Gangu Bai works at IGRMS on as a daily wager. She was inspired by Bhuri Bai of Pitol to take up painting on paper and canvas. Gangu Bai also holds painting workshops from time to time.
Gangu Bai’s main motifs are gatla, gal bapsi, gad bapsi and gohari. When she paints the gatlas, as the memory pillars are called, she remembers her ancestors who are still around to protect her. In the gal bapsi ritual, a Bhil man whose vow has been fulfilled, offers prayers to the gods. He is tied with rope, lifted high above the ground and turned seven times. Gangu Bai recollects her awe when as a child she saw the ritual performed. Gad bapsi on the other hand was an occasion for laughter as Bhil youths tried scrambling up a well oiled pole to get the prize of coconuts on top. It was great fun, she says, to see them sliding down the pole over and over again, but the ones who persisted and eventually did reach the coconuts were held in great esteem and he found it a lot easier to win the hand of the girl of his choice. Gangu Bai has often painted the gohari ritual, where bullocks walk over the backs of Bhil men possessed by the gods and goddesses.
Like the other Bhil artists, Gangu Bai’s favourite themes revolve around nature.