THE PICTURESQUE PITHORA PAINTINGS

In this incredible land of India, the native art and crafts speak volumes about our mixed cultures and traditions. Paintings, cultural art and heritage crafts are revered by all. Not only Indians, but they are praised by people all over the world. One such painting that holds a deep relevance in in our nation and has a touch of royal history is the Pithora painting of Gujrat.

Pithora paintings can be traced back to legendary cave paintings of Gujarat which are more than thousand years old. These paintings hold a deep social message and are the inherent art culture of Rathwa community. Excellent Pithora paintings are always seen at the interiors of their houses. It is always placed at the threshold, outside the first front wall or inside on the walls of the first room. Pithora paintings come in various shapes and sizes with the smallest measuring one and a half feet and the largest 145 by 10 feet.

The distinctive trait of Pithora painting is a group of seven horses within a rectangular fence representing the seven hills that surround the geographical area. The wavy line the cuts through the painting depicts the river Narmada. Three walls are selected for the painting, the front large central wall and the two on either side of it. The front or main wall is extremely tall, twice the size of each of the other selected sidewalls. These walls are first smeared in double layered cow dung mixture and one layer of white chalk powder. These raw materials are arranged by unmarried girls and this process is known as Lepna. The Lakhadas or the painters do not belong to the family or house. The tribute and wish to be fulfilled is generally made to a deity there called Baba Pithora before starting the painting. It takes days to finish the painting with final touches. The two sidewalls are then painted with figures of minor deities and gods. The completion of the painting is celebrated with song, celebrations, food and music.

Originated in the hamlet of Tejgadh, this wall painting was done by Rathwas and Bhilalas tribe of central Gujarat region. The true essence of the local population is captured in the pithora paintings and is considered very auspicious as they are believed to bring tranquility, wealth and happiness in a household. Another interesting trait of these paintings is that it is not imitated or inspired from nature at all. Pithora paintings are visualised on three inner walls of the houses in these places. A horse or a bull is usually painted at the middle which depicted God. Even though, the quality of Pithora painting is crude, but it is this abnormality that heightens its beauty.

Pithora painting has an array of beliefs such as farms, celestial bodies, field, bird flora and fauna are depicted in their respective positions along with people and their ancestors. Even modern objects like railway tracks, airplanes and computers are too represented through the paintings which makes it a real depiction of the world of Rathwa tribe. Even to this day, Pithora paintings have successfully managed to keep the true form and unique painting style intact with the evolving market trends and taste in art.

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