Rajasthan definitely tops among the richest states in India that has an abundance of cultural arts and crafts. Simple materials like stone, clay, leather, wood, ivory, lac, glass, brass, silver, gold and textiles have been smartly utilized by the proficient craftsmen into magnificent masterpieces.
Art flourished in this state since the existence of this region and has been passed on as legacies. Evidence of several sculptures, cave paintings, terracotta and other stone sculptures in the Baroli region proves the fact that an ancient art school existed in the 10th century. Each period of history saw its own contribution to the prospering arts and crafts.
The thriving heritage of Rajasthan reveals that the royals and their nobles were patrons of arts and crafts and they funded and encouraged their craftsmen in handcrafts such as wood and marble carving to weaving, pottery and painting. The desire to beautify their surroundings was immense. From flora to fauna to cultural activities and local traditions, they included each and everything in their designs. One such local art form that gained popularity was the Mandana Art.
Mandana is an ancient tribal art in India which has withstood the test of time. It has its roots among the Meena tribes of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. The art was basically done to beautify the floors and wall in both the interiors and exteriors of a house to render a positive feeling in the household and to protect it from the evil powers. The act of painting Mandanas during occasions and social functions was a sort of get-together for women of the community. Originally the word Mandana means Chitra Mandana or drawing a picture. Mandana is derived from the word Mandan which implies decoration and adorning of an area.
In ancient times, these historical paintings were done by women of the Meena community only during grand festivities or occasions. As they were drawn for spiritual motives, the drawing usually comprises of the images of the main god or godesses of the festival. Several patterns seen in the Mandana paintings are also portrayal of altars of Vedic yagna, the vastu purusha mandalas and the floor plans of temples from the days of yore.
An array of steps is followed while creating this art form. The integral part of the art is plastering the floor with clay along with the mixture of cow dung and water. The paintings are drawn on the wall or floor using basic tools procured from nature such as a brush made of a date twig, a clump of hair and cotton. Once the outlines are drawn, they are filled with colour which mostly comprises of white and red and is chosen specifically because they are conveniently available in the hamlet’s regular surroundings. White paint or khadiya is made of chalk while the red paint or geru is made of brick.
The mind blowing designs accentuate the beautification level of the tribal huts to a whole new level. Visiting the tribal hamlets or the original settlements of these communities are simply a delight to the art lovers.