Each sub-caste and tribal grouping Jharkhand has a unique tradition to uphold.
Oraon comb-cut paintings can be traced back to ancient times. Images of cattle, feeding troughs, papyrus, birds, fish, plants, circled lotus, zigzag, square,
opposing triangle geometric forms, arches in series - are common. Floral art forms are used during harvest time.
The women of farming communities of Hazaribagh district maintain a vibrant tradition of mural painting practiced as a ritual art form known as Sohrai. Sohrai is the art of harvest festival in autumn, using red, black, yellow and white earth Large voting images are painted with twigs and kuchis on he walls - bulls, horses with riders, wild animals, trees, lotuses, peacocks, and horned deities. Sohrai paintings are considered to be good luck paintings. More than 200 women have been trained in this art form.
This form of painting is practiced in Dumka district of the state. Artists make the narrative scrolls called the 'Jado' or Jadopatia for the 'Santhals' of Dumka district, depicting the 'Santhal' creation myth, The Tiger God and scenes from the after life, originally drawn from natural inks & colours. These paintings are believed to have magical and healing powers. They are used as visual aids by the story telling Jadopatia painters. This is a languishing art. With great difficulty we have been able to revive it.
The women of farming communities of Hazaribagh district maintain a vibrant tradition of mural painting practiced as a ritual art form known as Kohvar.
Kohvar is the art of marriage season when the walls of houses and particularly of the bridal chamber are new. A layer of wet cream coloured earth (Dud hi mitti) is painted over an undercoat of black earth and designs are cut with bits of combs or the fingers exposing black patterns on white. Comb cutting resembles the 'Sgraffito' technique of Greece and the incised pottery of Indus Valley and Iran. Kohvar paintings are considered to be good luck paintings.
These paintings are found across the length and breadth of the undivided Singhbhum district. People from the Paytkar community roam around from place to place and reach a house where a person has recently died or a new baby is born. They would go on telling stories and singing songs on the self composed lyrics. The artisans paint on soiled and used papers using vermilion and natural colour. Colour is applied with the aid of a needle or the hairs of a goat. Tales of Garur Puran form the very essence of these paintings. This langUishing painting has been successfully revived and we have more than 100 artists of this painting today.
Ganju art forms are characterized by images of animals, wild and domesticated, and plant forms. Large murals of animals, birds, and floral exotica, decorate homes. Endangered animals are often depicted in picture-story tradition.
Prajapati, Rana &Teli the three sub-castes decorate their homes with plant and animal fertility forms, using both finer painting and comb cutting techniques. The 'prajapati' style uses filigree work, with emphasis on zoomorphic plants representations and Pashupati (Siva) the God of Animals, and floral motifs filled with colour.
Kurmi, an unique style of 'sohrai', where drawing outlines are scratched onto the surface of a wall with nails and a wooden compass is used to etch the segmented lotus. Pashupati or Lord Shiva is depicted as a horned deity on the back of a bull. Red, black and white lines are drawn in pairs on either side to represent the ashes of ancestors. The Kurmis of Bhehwara use glyptic art to represent plants on the walls and floors of their homes.
Mundas use their fingers to paint in the soft, wet earth of their homes and use unique motifs like the rainbow snake and plant forms of deities. Lavender-gray coloured mud from rock-art sites next to Munda villages, are used with ochre mud as contrast colour.
Ghatwals use glyptic paintings of animals on their forest dwellings.
Turi who are a small community of basket-makers use predominantly floral and jungle-based motifs in natural earthy tones on the walls of their homes.
Birhor & Bhuiya use simple, strong, and authentic graphic forms like 'mandalas', painting with their fingers. Crescents, stars, yoni, rectangles with corner petals, ovals with flared lines and concentric circles, are common.
Manjhi Santhal - the striking warring figures painted in black on simple clay plaster walls are startling reminders that their origins probably had links with the Indus Valley civilization.