SOAS University of London

The Painted Forest Villages of Hazaribagh

THIS EVENT IS ARCHIVED
Detail of a house in the compound of Bulu Imam, Khovar style

Date: 14 October 2015Time: 10:30 AM

Finishes: 12 December 2015Time: 5:00 PM

Venue: Brunei Gallery Room: The Galleries

Type of Event: Exhibition

Showcasing work by Photographer Deidi Von Schaewen, this exhibition explores the traditional painted houses of the Adevasi villages in Hazaribagh, in the Indian state of Jharkhand and Khovar (comb-cut marriage art) and Sohrai (painted harvest art) paintings re-produced by the Tribal Women Artists Cooperative (TWAC).

For the Adivasi the house represents in the agricultural period a sacred Chouk (Square or rectangle). It is covered with black earth representing the Mother (Kali-Mati / Kali the mother goddess, Mati: earth) which is Manganese. The Mother is darkness, the womb, from whence birth comes. The black earth coating is covered with the white earth of Kaolin/Silica called Dudhi (milk) this Dudhi-mati representing the father god. When the white is covered entirely over the black earth and cut with a comb, forms of the mother goddess begin to appear.

Khovar (cave) ritual paintings by the tribal women of Hazaribagh are sacred offerings to the Mother. The symbols of Khovar are unavoidably linked to this sacred complex. Sohrai is painted with red, black, yellow and white ochres, and presents fertility symbols. Forest forms such as the tiger, deer, elephant, peacock and snake appear in the art of the forest dwelling tribes.

River valley and plains dwelling agricultural tribes have domestic animal forms like the cow, bull, goat, fowl, pigeon, peacock and lotus. Forest dwelling tribes also have forms like the bull, horse, cows feeding calves and lotus. Sometimes a bull with a man standing on its back is painted, representing the Lord of Animals.  

The TWAC was formed in l993 from a project for creating tribal art funded by the Australian High Commission, New Delhi. This cooperative was founded and is directed by Bulu Imam, the environmentalist, who is also the Regional Convener of the Hazaribagh Chapter of the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH). Fifty tribal women currently benefit from this unique self-support project.

Find out more about this project and the photographer on her website (deidivonschaewen.com).