A form of painting that comes from a namesake tribe of Madhya Pradesh; Gond painting derives its name from the Dravidian expression Kond, which means “the green mountain”. Gond painting signifies the tribe’s belief that viewing a good image begets good luck and reflects their perennial passion for life. This art form is also common across central Indian regions such as Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Odisha and Andhra Pradesh.
History and Origin:
Gond tribes are recorded to have originated around circa. 600 A.D. and painting has been a popular art form with them since the beginning. It was predominant amongst the Pradhan Gonds, renowned for both their painting and musical skills. Gond tribe people decorated their homes with traditional motifs and used paintings as a means to record their history.
The Gond tribes believe that everything in nature is inhabited by sacred spirits. Hence, Gond people painted natural elements such as trees, animals, rivers and mountains as a sign of reverence and respect. In addition to nature, Gond paintings are inspired by Indian mythology, the daily tribal domestic scenes, abstract emotions and dreams.
Gond paintings are known for their precision of outlines that are filled with dot and dashes, which make them look fluid and alive. Striking colors such as red, blue, white and yellow are used to impart vividness to the paintings. These paints are extracted from natural elements such as tinted soils (yellow and brown), charcoal, leaves (green), flowers (red), plant sap and cow dung.
Then and Now:
Gond paintings have transitioned over the years to canvases from walls and floors. Natural colors have been replaced by poster colors. These modern changes have resulted in the paintings being brighter and more vibrant than their ancient examples. Furthermore, use of canvases has made Gond paintings easier to transport and display.
Featured Artisans: Choti Tekam
The survival of any form of art ultimately depends on the artisans. One such resilient, new generation Gond artist is Choti.
When the 34 year old Choti came to Bhopal after her marriage to Santosh Tekam, she was amazed to find so many artists in the city. She saw their paintings and felt that she could do it too. When Ram Singh Urveti gave her paper and colours, she didn’t hesitate for a moment, and covered the sheet with forms of deer, her favorite animal. Deer, with their dark eyes and majestic walk had always caught her imagination. Choti was thrilled with the acrylic paints which at last gave her the freedom to use the whole spectrum of colours. Her favorite colour of all was blue – “the blue that a peacock carries on its body.” She recalls with nostalgia how in her childhood, she would try to reproduce the colours she wanted for flowers and leaves which she painted on the walls of her house with a homemade brush.
The artist in Choti Tekam is now fully awake, as she paints on canvas and paper. Each painting takes her anywhere from eight hours to a few weeks. With her encouraging husband Santosh they make a wonderful team who are balancing the tough job of producing vibrant, colourful paintings and giving good quality education to their two children aged 10 and 9.