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Bastar Arts is a form of traditional tribal art that originated in the Bastar district of Chhattisgarh, India. It is an ancient art form that has been practiced by the indigenous communities of the region for centuries. The Bastar arts are known for their distinctive style and use of natural materials like wood, metal, and clay.

The Bastar artisans are skilled in creating a range of art forms, including sculptures, figurines, masks, and decorative objects. The materials used in the art are sourced from the local forests and include materials like sal wood, iron, brass, and bell metal. The artisans often incorporate local motifs and symbols, such as the traditional Danteshwari temple, animals, birds, and human figures.

The art form is not only aesthetically appealing but also carries cultural and religious significance. It is closely linked to the indigenous communities’ beliefs and traditions and is often used in religious ceremonies and festivals. It also serves as a means of preserving and promoting the region’s rich cultural heritage.

The Bastar arts have gained popularity and recognition both nationally and internationally. The government of Chhattisgarh has also taken steps to promote and support the art form, leading to increased economic opportunities for the artisans and helping to ensure the preservation of this unique cultural heritage.

The Cultural Significance Of Bastar Art

The Bastar region is home to various indigenous tribes like the Gond, Maria, and Muria, who have a rich cultural heritage and have developed unique art forms that are distinct from mainstream Indian art.

The historical significance of Bastar arts lies in the fact that they represent the cultural identity and the way of life of the tribal communities living in the region. These art forms have been passed down from generation to generation, and they have survived the test of time and modernization.

Bastar arts are known for their intricate craftsmanship and the use of natural materials like wood, iron, and bell metal. The most famous art forms from Bastar include metal crafts, woodcraft, terracotta, and tribal paintings.

Bastar arts have also played a significant role in the economy of the region, as many artisans and craftsmen depend on them for their livelihood. They have also gained recognition and popularity in the mainstream art world, with many art collectors and enthusiasts appreciating their beauty and uniqueness

The Demand for Bastar Arts

The demand for Bastar arts has been steadily increasing due to their growing popularity as unique decorative pieces and collector’s items. Many people appreciate the cultural significance and authenticity of these handmade products, as they are often made by skilled artisans using traditional techniques.

There has been a surge in demand for eco-friendly and sustainable products, which has led to an increase in the popularity of Bastar Arts. These products are often made using locally sourced materials and eco-friendly techniques, which appeal to consumers who are conscious of their environmental impact.

The demand for Bastar arts is expected to continue growing as more people become aware of their cultural significance, unique designs, and eco-friendly.

Types of Bastar Art

1. Dhokra Art


This is a traditional metal casting technique that involves creating sculptures using the lost-wax casting process. The artisans use a blend of clay, wax, and organic materials to create the mold, which is then filled with molten metal.

Dhokra art is known for its intricate designs and patterns, which are often inspired by nature and the environment. The sculptures depict a wide range of subjects, from animals and birds to human figures and deities. They are often used for decorative purposes and as a symbol of cultural identity. Dhokra art is a vital source of income for many artisans in the Bastar region, and it has gained popularity across the country and around the world for its unique beauty and cultural significance.

2. Wooden Crafts


Wooden crafts are a popular and important art form in Bastar, known for their intricate designs and skilled craftsmanship. The region is home to a variety of wood types, including teak, sal, and bamboo, which are used by artisans to create a wide range of products, including wooden carvings, masks, toys, and furniture.

The process of creating wooden crafts in Bastar involves several stages, starting with selecting the wood. The wood is carefully chosen based on its quality and suitability for the specific item being created. Once the wood has been selected, it is cut and shaped using a variety of tools, including chisels, saws, and knives. The wood is then polished to create a smooth and even surface.

One of the unique aspects of wooden crafts in Bastar is the use of lacquer, a natural resin that is applied to the wood to create a glossy and durable finish. The lacquer is applied in several layers, with each layer being allowed to dry before the next is added. The final product is a beautiful and durable work of art that reflects the rich cultural heritage of the region.

3. Terracotta Art


Terracotta art is a popular traditional art form in the Bastar region of Chhattisgarh. This art form involves the creation of sculptures, figurines, and other decorative items using locally sourced clay. The clay is molded by hand and then fired in a kiln to create the final product.

The artisans in Bastar use a variety of techniques to create intricate designs and patterns on the clay. Some artisans use a simple, minimalist approach, while others create highly detailed and elaborate designs. The designs often reflect the local culture and traditions and may include depictions of deities, animals, and other elements of nature.

Terracotta art is an important part of the local culture in Bastar and is often used for religious and ceremonial purposes. It is also a popular souvenir for tourists, who can purchase a wide variety of terracotta items from local artisans.

4. Bell Metal Craft


Bell metal craft is a popular traditional art form that has been practiced in the Bastar region of Chhattisgarh for centuries. The artisans who practice this craft use a combination of copper and tin to create utensils, bells, and other household items.

The process of creating bell metal crafts begins with collecting copper and tin, which are then melted together in a furnace. The molten metal is then poured into a mold to create the desired shape, which is then polished and finished by the artisan.

One of the unique features of bell metal craft is the distinct sound that is produced by the bells created using this technique. The sound is said to have spiritual significance and is often used in religious ceremonies and festivals.

5. Pithora Paintings


Pithora painting is a traditional art form that originated in the tribal regions of Bastar. These paintings are created using natural colors and materials such as mud, cow dung, and rice flour, and depict various aspects of tribal life, including myths, legends, and rituals.

The paintings are created by first preparing a surface with a mixture of cow dung and mud, which is then painted with a white base coat made from rice flour. The painting is then created using natural pigments made from plants and minerals, which are applied using a bamboo stick or a brush made from animal hair.

The subjects of Pithora paintings vary widely and may include depictions of tribal deities, animals, birds, and other elements of nature. These paintings are often created during religious festivals or ceremonies and are believed to have spiritual significance.

Pithora paintings are known for their intricate and detailed designs, which are created using a variety of techniques such as dotting, hatching, and shading. The paintings may also include symbols and motifs that hold special meaning for the tribe, such as the sun, moon, and stars.

6. Bamboo Art


Bamboo art is a popular handicraft in the Bastar region. The artisans use bamboo to create a variety of decorative and functional items, such as baskets, trays, lampshades, and furniture. The art of bamboo weaving is passed down from generation to generation, and the artisans use traditional techniques to create intricate designs and patterns.

The process of making bamboo art begins with the selection of the raw material. The artisans use bamboo that is mature, straight and has a uniform thickness. The bamboo is cut into thin strips using a special tool called a date and then soaked in water to make it pliable.

Once the bamboo is pliable, the artisans begin the weaving process. They use a variety of weaving techniques, including coiling, plaiting, and twining, to create the desired shape and pattern. The artisans may also use other natural materials, such as cane and grass, to add texture and contrast to the bamboo.

Once the item is complete, it is polished with a smooth stone to give it a smooth finish. The finished product is not only aesthetically pleasing but also durable and functional, making it a popular choice for both home decor and daily use.

Bamboo art in Bastar is not only an important source of livelihood for the artisans but also an important part of the region’s cultural heritage. The art form reflects the resourcefulness and creativity of the people of Bastar and their close relationship with nature.

Drawbacks of Bastar Arts

Despite being eco-friendly, economical, and sustainable, Bastar Arts do have some demerits that are worth considering. 

  1. Limited Scope

Bastar arts are primarily limited to the Bastar region and are not widely known or appreciated outside of that area. This limits the potential audience and market for these arts.

  1. Limited Commercial Viability

While Bastar arts are valued for their aesthetic and cultural significance, they may not always have a high commercial value. This can make it difficult for artisans to make a sustainable living from their craft.

  1. Lack of Innovation

Bastar arts are steeped in tradition and may not always be open to innovation or experimentation. This can limit the creativity of artisans and the potential for these arts to evolve and adapt to changing times.

  1. Environmental Impact

The production of Bastar arts often involves the use of natural resources such as wood and metal. This can have an impact on the environment if not managed responsibly.

  1. The Exploitation of Artisans

In some cases, artisans who produce Bastar arts may be exploited by middlemen or traders who pay them very low wages for their work. This can make it difficult for artisans to make a fair living from their craft and can lead to economic exploitation.

Over to You

Bastar arts are an important part of India’s cultural heritage, and efforts must be made to preserve and promote them. By doing so, we can not only support the local artisans but also ensure the continuation of this beautiful art form for generations to come.

The use of Bastar arts has expanded beyond just decorative items to include functional objects such as lamps, furniture, and even utensils. This has not only helped preserve the traditional art form but also provided sustainable livelihoods to the local artisans who create them.

Initiatives have been taken by the government and non-governmental organizations to promote and support the art form. These initiatives include training programs for the artisans, providing them with modern tools and equipment, and establishing market linkages to enable them to sell their products at fair prices. So, here we conclude our brief look into the Bastar Arts. I hope you find this blog helpful and enjoy reading it. 

What other art forms can you think of? Let us know in the comments. 

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