A Bhill wall painting


Folk Paintings of Mewar and Malwa

By Dr. Kailash Kumar Mishra


One of the projects IGNCA is presently engaged in is the exhaustive video documentation of ‘the Folk Painting of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh’. IGNCA has been commissioned to do this project by the Ministry of Textiles, Government of India. The IGNCA team, consisting of Dr. Kailash Mishra, Dr. Gautam Chatterjee, Shri Sarabhjeet Singh, Shri Shiv Charan Rawat and Shri Jagat Singh did extensive documentation of the folk paintings of Mewar and Malwa regions. The paintings included the sanjhya in both the states and the Bhill’s painting in Rajasthan. ‘Gavari – a dance drama of the Bhills of Rajasthan has also been video documented.

Traditional wall painting of the Bhills 
The Choti Ondari village in the region of Inya Parvat of Rajasthan is dominated by the Bhills. The Inya Parvat is a beautiful hill where according to the local belief of the Bhills, 12 Siva lingam are enshrined: Nandesvaranatha Mahadeo, Kedarnatha Mahadeo, Amreekji Mahadeo (Oondari Maa), Khaperna Mahadeo (Prakat), Guptesvara Mahadeo, Tanesvara Mahadeo (in the Andri village), Bladario Mahadeo, Koicha Mahadeo, Kaya Mahadeo, Phatadhara Mahadeo, Amba Mahadeo and Jharna Mahado

The wall and floor painting of the Bhills are dominated by some images, such as bridal chamber, gotrej (the Goddess of the gotra or clan), pet and other animals and birds such as cow, ox, goats, peacock, crow, hen, and dancing men and women, a ploughman with his ploughshare, etc. Goma, a sixty year old man said he has been painting since his childhood. He has also trained his son, Bema. Phulabhai Pargi is another good artist who has been recognised by the state as well as the Central government for his imagination in the folk painting. He has trained his son, Dhullaji Pargi and daughter, Jible in this art. 

Their paintings also include Shiva with his jata (mated hair) and the Ganga flowing from the top, having trishool (trident) in his hand, garlanded with the rosary of rudrakshas, with naked feet, and a tripunda mark of sandal wood paste on his head. On one wall a tree is depicted where two lions are standing in the front and monkeys, peacocks, etc., are sitting on various branches of the tree. The horses and elephants are also depicted with colourful delight and fine expression, in the entrance of the houses. 

Gavari: a dance drama of the Bhills of Rajasthan 
Gavari is a dance-drama festival celebrated by the Bhills. It lasts for almost 40 days in the Hindu months of Savan and Bhado. During the festival, Shiva and his consort Gauri, are worshipped. Ritual worship is offered to the terracotta images of the two. At the culmination of the festival, the image of Gauri is immersed in a river or a pond. The IGNCA documentation has captured thebhasan (immersion) ceremony of Gavari. Strict adherence to local rules and beliefs is maintained by those doing the worship. 

The Sanjhya Painting 
Sanjhya is a ritual wall painting. Young girls, especially the newly wed in Mewar and Malwa regions paint the walls for 14 to 15 days during the pitrapaksha, the period when ancestors are remembered and offered ritual oblation by Hindus. Everyday in the evening they wash the wall with cow dung and ochre. The motifs are made from the lumps of cow dung and decorated further with flower, leaves, colourful papers of gilt, vermilion, etc. The head grains of maize and wheat are are also used to decorate the motifs, which include the sun, the moon and five stars. Throughout, they sing and perform prescribed rituals. On the final day, the images are immersed in a river, pond or any source of water. According to Parbai, 70, everyday, the village girls devote about one and a half hours in depicting the sanjhya. This is called sanjhya mandua in the local language. Everyday, the old mandna is scraped and new mandna is pasted. From 13th day to 15th day, mainly the bride depicts Sanjhya kot very minutely. There are set themes for each of the days.

There are some minor differences in the sanjhya from place to place. In Haldighati, the form of sanjhya and colour combination, selection of flowers etc. are a little different from the Boojhra village and other locations of Udaipur. The ganvataru – a variety of local flower is mainly used in this locality to decorate the motifs. One can see the direct impact of Nathdwara (Krishna) cult in this region on the sanjhya. The kot is decorated with the help of colourful gilt papers, green leaves and other things easily available in their surroundings. This festival is celebrated in Malwa region with greater details. The IGNCA team visited Malipura and Jaisinghpura in the city of Ujjain the Vinayaga village in Malwa for documenting the sanjhya and chitravan. The sanjya is called sanji or sanjhi in Malwa.. 



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