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A STUDY OF TRIBAL ART AND CULTURE OF BASTAR, CHHATTISGARH
PINKI PRIYA

For so long Chhattisgarh was a ‘terra –incognito’ for the historical world. It was the second half of the 20th century when historian and researchers attempted to draw the history, culture and tradition of Chhattisgarh. Although Chhattisgarh is a nascent state but its history goes back to pre historical period. During ancient times the region was known as Dakshin Kosal, Mahakantar, Dandakaryana. And it remained habituated by the finest creature in earth since. Chhattisgarh is a tribal dominant with more than 40% of the population being tribal. Situated in the centre part of India, geographical isolation and dense forest cover had made it easy for tribes to maintain their tradition, customs and practices still the same way as it was centuries ago.

Presently Chhatisgarh has 27 districts with Raipur as the state capital. The southern part of the particularly Bastar is famous for its tribal culture. Before splitting Bastar was one of the biggest districts of India and Kanker,Kondagaon, Naryanpur, Bastar, Dantewada, Bijapur and Sukma districts of present day. Presently the Bastar covers an area of 8755 square kilometres with seven tehsil namely Jagdalpur, Bastar, Bastanagar, Bakawand, Darbha, Tokapal, Lohandiguda. Bastar from ancient times had maintained a separate identity of itself.

The Bastar region is covered by dense forest which is a suitable habitat for the tribes living here. The tribes of Bastar region are known for their unique and distinctive tribal culture and heritage in all over the world. The major tribes of Bastar are Gond, Halba , Muria, Bhatra, Maria, and Dhurva. Each tribal group in Bastar has their own distinct culture and enjoys their own unique traditional living style. The tribals of Bastar like to live in isolation and prefer the old way of living in the forest. These tribal people may seem uncivilised to the world but their traditional approach towards nature has maintained the natural environment in this part of world.

Bastar is famous for its handicrafts which reflect the creative genius of art as well as technological skills of tribal’s of Bastar. The tradition of the fine handcraftsmanship is very old in Bastar which can be understood by deep study of archaeological remains of the region. The glorious archaeological monuments with their beautiful architecture and sculpture are living testimony of rich artistic tradition of Bastar.

The prominent art forms of Bastar are:

Bell metal Crafts:
The bell metal craft which is also known as “Dhokra” art is one of the earliest method of metal casting in the region. In Bastar tribals use lost wax technique for casting of bell metal or brass. In Bastar ‘Ghadwa’ tribals practices this type of craftsmanship.


Wrought Iron Art
Another type of handicrafts which is very famous in Bastar is wrought iron art. This art can better be understood as a thin slim figurine of Iron is made by tribals. Bastar is famous for minerals and iron is abundantly available to tribals. The tribals of Bastar long ago had mastered the art of extracting the iron from the ore. Using raw iron many objects are made by them. Metal is made pliable by beating it in furnaces and shaping them carefully into basic form using bummer and tongs. Lamps, Candle stands, effigies of musicians, toys, animals like deer, lion, figures of deities and ritualistic items of tribals are made using this technique. Terracotta Soil is considered to be very pious to the tribals of Bastar. Every village of Bastar has a separate worship abode some distance from the village. This place of worship is locally known as ‘Gudi’ by the people. In each ‘Gudi’ one will find the terracotta figures of Elephant, Horse, Deer, and of local deities. Ritualistic offering in the form of animals to these ‘Gudis’ or any place worship place is integral part of terracotta crafts. The tribal in the contemporary era had started making beautiful terracotta works for tourist now a day to be taken back as souvenirs. This beautiful terracotta works include pen stand, lamp holders, paper weight etc.

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