Handloom and Handicraft

Posted on May 22, 2007. Filed under: Research |


Chhattisgarh is a unique amalgamation of different cultures, natural beauties, ancient and modernity. Artists of Chhattisgarh make beautiful sculptures and are at the top of the marvels since ages. The beauty of art lives in the mixture of ancients and modernity. Most of the area is covered with rivers, hills and forests and in between the forests live various castes and tribal people like Gond, Maria, Muria, Abujhmaria, Halba, Bhatra, Dhruva etc. Each of them have their own customs and cultures, folk dances and folk arts. These folk-arts include metal art, handicrafts, wooden arts and terracotta that are part of their lives.


But impact of modernization has started bringing changes here. Sculptures of Chhattisgarh had remained a live tradition, which is on the verge of disappearing. Transportation facilities and increasing demand are affecting the quality of traditional sculptures are becoming modern. These tribal people are now producing new forms of arts, new type and shapes in the market, leaving behind its traditional arts due to which their decade old arts are changing very fast.


Bastar division is famous for its special form of sculptures in all over the world. Here mainly three forms of sculptures are found- Bronze idols or bell metal statues, wooden craft and terracotta sculptures. Ghadwa Tribal people make the bell metal work. The technique of moulding metal is called vanishing wax technique. The statue of the dancer found from pre-historic place of Indus Valley civilization was also moulded in this technique. They make the statue of idols related with their religious ceremony and livelihood. Statues are mainly of Mavali Mata, Bandarin Mata, Bhima Dev, Anga Dev and elephants, horses and birds. Such statues are also made by woodcraft. Traditionally, in woodcraft; a few things were made such as doors of huts, souvenir of dead (usually by Maria Tribal people), tobacco fillers and wooden combs made by youth of Ghotul etc. Carving on the wooden flats depicted the festivals of tribal people, scenes of Haat (madai), chariot pulling of Danteshwari Mata, dancing tribal youth, Tribal people taking Salfi and liquor, tribal people going for hunting etc. There was increasing demand for such artwork day by day and hundred of youth started this wooden work in Jagdalpur and nearby. They carve the tribal way of living, decorative materials and besides this, they started making sofa sets, diwan, bed, table and other useful things, which have big demand in market. They make things of daily use, statues of animals and idols of god and deity by terracotta or clay. Earlier they used to make agricultural instruments and wall decoratives but since last few years, they have started making swingers (jhula), nets, big wall decoratives and animal shapes of various sizes. The youth of new era have started making such animal shapes which depicts its expressions also. Demand of such artistic pieces is increasing in metros and foreign, but the middlemen who run emporiums in local and metros share most of the profits. They sell such beautiful art pieces just by weighting like utensils.


Terracotta: In Bastar region, making of terracotta is quite prevalent (प्रचलित). The idol figure of terracotta is worshiped in almost every occasion; let it be family and social events of festivals or any event. Habitats of Bastar are firm believer of the power of these gods, symbols of icons and they seek blessings from these gods. The tribal terracotta, made in Bastar region, caters the needs of all the near- by surrounded cultural regions like Orissa, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh. Terracotta structures are made in various shapes and size of pots and figures to meet the need of social and sacred requirements. Mostly human facial figure, animal figures, bell ornamented horses and elephants are made and are very popular forms of terracotta products in Bastar.


Wood craft: the Tribal people have great affection and skill for wooden craft. They decorate their houses and shrines with carved upright pots, door panels, ceiling frames etc. In Ghotul, Murias keep huge wooden drums, dancing stilts, musical instruments and carved wooden dead-rest (मृतक स्तम्भ) called “Kutul”. Young boys present carved wooden combs as a token of love to their choice of girls. Their beautifully decorated wood works include the iconographed figure of birds, various animals, weapons, human figures and gods. Muria Tribal people of Bastar have particular specialization in elaborate (विस्तृत, फैला हुआ, सावधानी से परिश्रम से बनाया किया हुआ) ornamentations of various items. Tribal musical instruments are made of wood with different shapes and sizes with designs carved on their outer sides. Ritual masks are also made of wood only.


Metal Art: Tribal people of Bastar are experts in bell metal craft. There are two traditional ways to make metal craft in Bastar- One is of bronze using Cire Perdue of lost wax technique and another is the by iron smithy. Hand made bell metal craft include the shapes of animals like elephant, dear, horses etc. of different sizes and utensils, ornaments, idols etc. These arts reflect cultural, social and spiritual requirements of the Tribal people. Families who acquire such profession of making metal handicraft are known as Ghadva and scattered all over Bastar tribal villages. In Kondagoan and Jadgalpur, there is concentration of Ghadva families. With the popular demand of aluminum and steel utensils, demand of metal utensils moulded of bronze or copper has gown down, but the ornament and metal-moulded shapes of animals and birds is continuously increasing.


Lohar (Blacksmith) family is part of tribal village. However, Kondagaon has got a whole colony of blacksmiths. There are many clans of Lohars such as Sodhi, Netam, Poyam, Markam, Marai, Nevra, Halami, Baghel, Mandavi etc.


Bamboo craft: Bastar tribal specializes in Bamboo Crafts which include the products like wall hangings, table lamps, table mats, etc.


Cotton Fabrics: Tribal people of Bastar are very famous for making attractive handicrafts made from Kosa thread. This thread is obtained (पाना, प्राप्त करना) from a kind of worm found in forest. The hand printing is done with natural vegetables dye. The fabric includes cotton sarees (known as Bastar Kosa Saree), dress material, drapes and other cotton materials.         

Kondagaon, Narayanpur and Jagdalpur are very famous for its terracotta works. Jagdalpur is famous for Kosa Silk Sarees. Work of bell metal and pig iron are specialty of Kondagaon and Jagdalpur. Narayanpur and Jagdalpur are famous for woodcrafts and bamboo work. Making of stone souvenir (सूवनियर-निशानी, स्मृति चिन्ह) is the oldest sculpture art of Bastar.

The prisoners of local jail in Jagdalpur also do handicraft art. There are nearly 300 local markets in Bastar where Tribal people purchases salt, tobacco, cloths and other things in exchange of forest products. Cockfighting is the main attraction of the markets here.


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