Pithora Painting - Facts about Pithora Art [UPSC Art & Culture Notes]

Pithora Painting is a tribal painting of India that belongs to the Rathwas, Bhilals, Nayaks and Tadi tribes, residing in and around Chhota Udaipur and Kawat in eastern Gujarat and parts of

western Madhya Pradesh. Traditionally, Pithora painting is revered by the Rathwa tribe. Types of paintings form an important part of the Art and Culture syllabus of the IAS Exam.

This article will provide you with relevant information on Pithora painting/ art, its origin and its features; that will be helpful for the UPSC 2021 examination.

The topic, ‘Pithora Painting’ is covered under UPSC Art and Culture in both Prelims and Mains GS 1.

To complement your art and culture preparation and study similar important topics, follow the links below:

  1. NCERT Art and Culture Notes for UPSC
  2. Art and Culture Questions from UPSC Mains GS 1
  3. How to study Indian Art and Culture
  4. Important Topics of Art and Culture in UPSC GS 1
  5. Best Books for UPSC Art and Culture

Salient Features of Pithora Painting

  1. It is a wall painting that is mainly characterized by the seven horses. It is believed that these seven horses represent the seven hills that surround the Gujarat-Madhya Pradesh border areas.
  2. The name, ‘Pithora painting’ is after the god of the tribe – God Pithora (Pithora Baba).
  3. The Pithora artists who are well-trained and were responsible to develop this Pithora art are called Lakhara.
  4. The Pithora wall painting is done during auspicious rituals by the Lakharas. The prevalent belief is that with the Pithora painting on their house walls, they seek God’s blessings.
  5. The Pithora Art is done in the roofed gallery (Verandah) of the house.
  6. Before starting the Pithora wall painting, the walls are prepared using the mixture of cow dung and mud. A similar ritual is also followed in the Warli painting.
  7. Usually, unmarried girls are supposed to prepare the walls for Pithora art.
  8. The colours used in the Pithora painting are:
    1. White (Clay)
    2. Orange, green, blue, red and yellow
  9. The paintings are bordered within a rectangular space. The enclosed paintings therein depict the Rathwas’ mythological or revered events.
  10. The Pithora motifs include:
    1. The topmost depiction above the wavy line represents the world of Gods.
    2. Below the wavy line, the procession of marriage is depicted.
    3. Tipna – These are the orange dots that are made in the center of the rectangle with fingers. It is made on the completion of the entire painting.
    4. Figures of sun, moon, monkeys, etc are drawn.
    5. In the main painting, there are three horizontal rows (the Central row is dedicated to Pithora). Depictions of elephants take the last row.
    6. Khatri horses are painted on the right side. (These horses are believed to be the ancestors’ horses.)
    7. The Earth, the mythical farmer, the cowherd, the kings, the bania, the badvo, the goddesses of destiny, cow, bull, various creatures of the forest, and the minor deities are depicted at the lower half of the enclosed Pithora painting.
  11. The unique selling point of the original Pithora painting is that no two paintings are similar where the artist leaves distinct marks on each of his paintings to signify his intellectual and creative rights over the murals.

How is Pithora Painting done?

The ‘Osari’ or the centre space of the house is where the Pithora painting is done.

  1. Three walls are prepared for Pithora art – Front wall and two walls on either side.
  2. Lipai – Two layers of cow dung and mud paste and one layer of white chalk is applied on the walls.
  3. The colours are made with milk, Mahua liquor, flower seeds and other leaves; while the brush used to make Pithora art is made up of bamboo sticks
  4. The painting is not only done on walls but also on cloth, papers, cardboards etc.

Traditions Related to Pithora Paintings of India

It is stated that the paintings are a way of seeking the blessing of their god. While the Pithora Paintings are made on the walls; it is accompanied by the chantings and singing.

The head priest called the ‘Badwa’ is responsible for the entire ritual. ‘Panghu’ is the name of the associated ceremony.

Three important mascots in Bhilala mythology are depicted in the Pithora painting:

  1. Horses
  2. Sun, and
  3. Moon

Apart from the three mascots; the other objects/activities that depicted in the pithora art are:

  1. Farming
  2. Hunting
  3. Ploughing
  4. Dancing
  5. Singing

Significance of Pithora Painting of India

The Pithora Art is an indigenous tribal art of India. To promote the Pithora painting and art; the state government administrations of Gujarat and MP take initiatives. Over the years, Pithora Art has also shown versatility in the art form. From depicting ‘dhotis’, ‘langot’ or ‘horses’; Lakharas now also depict ‘trousers,’ ‘bike’ or ‘trucks.’ Many public offices and schools of the states showcase the Pithora paintings over their walls.

Read about other forms of Tribal Paintings in India in the linked article.

Brief about Aadharkanch – Rathwa, Bhil and Bhilala Tribes

Bhil, Bhilala and Rathwa are interchangeably used to describe the tribe that is located in the Aadharkanch region. It is a tribal hamlet which is in Alirajpur district located in Madhya Pradesh. ‘Rathwa tribe’ is a term mainly used in Gujarat. The tribe pays tribute to its culture and heritage through Pithora paintings among other rituals.

Also, read about the Scheduled Tribes of India in the linked article.

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