The Telegraph
Wednesday , February 26 , 2014
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Museum wears tribal murals

- 30 women artists bring timeless art alive

Hotwar state museum, Ranchi, is now donning a wall-to-wall badge of tribal identity.

Thirty tribal women artists are painting the boundary walls of the museum in motifs derived from khovar, sohrai (auspicious murals), jadupatia (scroll painting) and totka (Oraon art form related to superstitious beliefs) in a unique initiative of state art and culture department.

Though the budget is a modest Rs 6.5 lakh, the impact is already visible on Day Two. Women artists, who started working from Monday, will paint the murals till March 2.

Well-known Ranchi-based tribal artist Dilip Toppo, asked by the department to scout for women artists, found 10 from Hazaribagh, eight from Gumla, five from Dumka, three from East Singhbhum and two each from Garhwa and Ranchi.

Motifs include Pashupati, the lord of animals; animals, including combative tigers; birds, plants and fish; marriage venues and palanquins; and the tree of life.

In a concession to modernity, artists are using acrylic paints and brushes, but they have not forgotten their traditional tools of the trade — twigs, cloth swabs, combs and organic colours.

Seema Minz, from Hulhundu in Ranchi district, a practitioner of totka art, said: “We feel proud that our expertise is being recognised on such a prestigious platform.”

Putli Ganju from Saheda village, Hazaribagh, busy painting birds, added that they also got to meet fellow artists from other places in the state.

Parwati Devi, who has come all the way in Bhelwara village in Bishungarh block, Hazaribagh district, said three years ago, she and some others got an opportunity to depict similar tribal art forms painted on the interior walls of Army War Memorial, Dipatoli, also in the capital.

In 2009, women artists from six districts of Hazaribagh had displayed their skills in khovar and sohrai to cover 15,700sqft area on the boundary walls of Bhagwan Birsa Biological Park in Ormanjhi.

Hazaribagh’s Dulari Ekka said they had seen their mothers and grandmothers paint the walls of village homes. “Khovar and sohrai are considered auspicious,” she said.

Toppo, the coordinator of this unique art camp, said:

“It’s a positive initiative of the art and culture department. From the budget, these artists will get an honorarium too. Not only is their work authentic, their art will present a welcoming look to the museum and remind visitors of the vibrant tribal legacy,” he said.

Do you think the museum will preserve the murals?