Gond Art: The Celebration Of Nature

 Sanchayeeta Parashar
Sanchayeeta Parashar
Sanchayeeta is an aspiring writer from Assam who's passionate about exploring different tribes and sharing the beauty of their cultures with her readers.

The Gond Tribe And Their Art

 A community of around 4 million people spread all over Central India, the Gonds have a recorded history of about 1400 years. However, considering the fact that they inhabit areas where rock paintings date back to the Mesolithic Era, their antecedents date back even further. So, the Gond customs echo their mesolithic culture. For example, the tradition of decorating their houses with colourful motifs, an activity which may have its origin in the cave-dwelling tradition of our ancestors, Praised by this indigenous community, the word Gond comes from the Dravidian expression Kond, meaning "green mountains." Known as the cultural hub, the Gondwana region of Madhya Pradesh, which includes places like Mandla, Seoni, Balaghat, and Chhindwara, is the birthplace of this famous form of art. To date, Gond art has been practised over generations by artists and artisans with great enthusiasm and passion. 


The Heritage of Gond Art

The theme of Gond art is rooted in the enriched folk culture of the tribe. Thus, storytelling becomes a strong element of every painting. The paintings depict many traditional rituals and attempt to highlight man's relationship with nature. In the eyes of a Gond artist, everything is sacred and intimately connected to nature. This mystical art form is created by putting together lines and dots. The imaginative use of lines imparts a sense of mobility to the still images. A certain sense of balance can be observed in the patterns used. Artists use natural colours like extracts of charcoal, plant sap, coloured soil, cow dung, and leaves to celebrate nature through their paintings. 

  • The Gond community believes that "viewing a good image begets good luck."
  • It is this belief that has led the Gonds to decorate their houses and floors with traditional motifs and designs. 
  • In addition to this, the community also believes that these paintings act as a shield against evil and misfortune. 
  • In villages, Gond art is done using natural colours, which get off very easily. Thus, modern artists use acrylic paints to increase the longevity of their paintings.
  • Traditionally, these paintings were made on festive occasions such as Naag Panchami, Karwa Chauth, Diwali, and even weddings. 
  • Gond art is a vibrant depiction of flora, fauna and deities such as Phulwari Devi, Bagaisur, various incarnations of Lord Shiva, Lord Krishna etc.
  • The Gonds do not have a single God. There are different deities for different castes and different subgroups.
  • No two paintings by two different artists match each other.
  • Every artist uses some unique signature symbols in their paintings. Some use lines while others may prefer dots. Plus, P, C, N, etc. are also used as symbols by the artists to retain individuality in their work. 
  • The story of Lord Krishna lifting the Govardhan is the same for everyone. However, each artist expresses it in his own style, which adds to the diversity of Gond art and beautifies its uniqueness in an aesthetic manner.

Procedure Of Making A Gond Artwork 

  • A rough pencil sketch is drawn on the base. This will serve as the primary guidelines for the artist. However, some artists may prefer to skip this step and directly work with paint.
  • Then it is painted using bright and vibrant colours. One can use any medium such as watercolours, oils, acrylics, etc. Traditionally, natural colours were used for the same.
  • A black outline is drawn to give some contour to the artwork.
  • Then one needs to select a unique symbol or sign to create repeated patterns of their choice.
  • The patterns are also drawn with paint.
  • Various colours are used for detailing so as to create an overall colourful and long-lasting effect.

What Makes Gond Art Unique?

"The mind of an artist is like an open book, eager to narrate various stories to the world."

Gond art is such a form of art that looks at various other forms of tribal art, learns from them, but still brings out something unique and beautiful each time. 

Today, although Gond artists have moved to the cities, leaving behind their village lives, their minds are rooted in the aroma of their native soil. So, keeping in mind the essence of their village lives, when the artists create an artwork, it turns out to be unique each time. Like other traditional art forms, Gond art has also experienced modernization. However, it still retains its traditional essence, which makes it special and authentic. Though Gond art is a traditional tribal art, it progresses towards something new.