The Significance of Tribal Gond Art in Indian Heritage

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The Significance of Tribal Gond Art in Indian Heritage

The story of India is a colourful and vibrant tapestry with multicolour threads of cultures, artistic expressions and languages. Some of the richest threads in this tapestry are contributed by the indigenous Gond tribe who inhabit multiple states across India including Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Telangana and Uttar Pradesh. Named from the Dravidian expression - Kond - which means ‘mountain’, this tribal community thrived in the hills and have been residents of India for more than 1400 years! There were more than 11 million Gondi people in the country as per the 2011 census.

The Gond tribe of India holds a special place in the realm of tribal arts of India with their vibrant artworks that tell stories of great depth. These artworks, once hidden within their homes, have now travelled the world, making their mark in galleries far and wide. It's a journey that speaks of the artistry and the universal beauty of their art that transcends boundaries.

Identifying a Gond Painting:

Most of the different folk art forms in India have originated from the walls of the homes of their creator communities and have now moved to canvas and paper, which have enabled them to be appreciated by a much wider audience. The intricate detailing and use of vibrant colours of Gond art is a common thread that links it with the common ground it shares with many other traditional art forms of India. Though there are some similarities between the tribal paintings all over India, Gond paintings are markedly distinctive. Here are the identifiers of a good Gond painting -

1. Intricate Patterns: The Gond artists use intricate lines and dots in combinations to create complex designs. The dots are used to assess the area of the painting and ensure proper proportions, while the lines form the intricacies and hold the body of the painting. These lines-and-dots designs thus form the basis of the painting's composition and are the most clear identifiers of Gond paintings

2. Vibrant Colours: Gond art have bright hues of red, blue, green, and yellow that boldly create a visually striking effect. These colours are all obtained from natural sources like coloured soil, charcoal, plant sap, flowers, leaves or even cow dung. Hence, these are ‘green’ or eco-friendly art pieces!

Handmade Tribal Gond Painting of fish frolicking in the water


3. Nature-Related Themes: The depictions of animals, birds, trees, fish and other aspects of nature are an integral part of Gond paintings. Tribal deities and forest lore also form recurrent themes in Gond paintings.

4. Strong Story: The phrase ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’ literally comes true for a Gond painting because it narrates a myth, a legend, a tribal story, or a slice of everyday tribal life on the lap of nature. For instance, the Ganja and Mahua tree, a common feature of these paintings, tell the story of true love. An upper caste girl and lower caste boy in deep love are ostracised by society. They go to the forest and become these trees next to each other.

5. Symbolism: The animals or patterns used tastefully in the paintings also possess a deep symbolic meaning that reflects the Gond people's beliefs and views. For example, the trees symbolise absolute protection for the Gonds, protecting them from rain and sun.

6. Geometric Abstraction: Life forms and objects are broken down into basic shapes like triangles, circles, and rectangles. The beauty of complexity is built in the patterns that fill these shapes. The artist takes great care to draw all the lines perfectly, using them cleverly to show movement.

7. Minimal Empty Spaces: Gond paintings usually have less negative or empty spaces, and the entire surface pulsates with colours and designs.

8. The Perspective of ‘No Perspective’: Gond art doesn't adhere to traditional concepts of perspective. The artists create a flat, two-dimensional surface where the different elements coexist harmoniously.

Handmade Tribal Gond Painting of birds nesting in a tree


9. Freehand Style: Gond artists never use any preliminary sketches, guide-lines or instruments like rulers or compasses. Their freehand artistry adds a dynamic and spontaneous quality to their work.

10. Emphasis on Outlines: The bold, black outlines of various shapes and forms contribute to the distinct visual language of Gond paintings.

Handmade Tribal Gond painting of the Harmony of Nature - Birds, Deer and Trees


The Story of Gond Revival

In the midst of a rapidly evolving technological landscape and evolving consumer behaviour, Gond paintings confront a profound challenge of fading away into obscurity. Their practitioners find it difficult to keep pace with this fast changing landscape. Yet, the age-old adage holds true – a thing of beauty is a joy forever. Despite the odds, Gond art has not only persevered but has also found renewed vigour. This is thanks to the untiring efforts from the Government of India on one hand and support from passionate champions and e-commerce pGond artlatforms like Planet Handcrafted which strive to curate and showcase fine, authentic on a global stage. Thus, an array of initiatives has sprouted, weaving a safety net around Gond art's legacy. These vibrant creations have thus captured the attention of admirers worldwide, spanning Japan, France, the UK, and the US.

By recognizing the value of Gond art and supporting the artists behind it, we can also contribute to a living heritage that resonates through time. Thus, apart from being visual delights, Gond paintings are also testament to the preservation of cultural heritage.

Handmade Tribal Gond Painting of an elephant


Ready To Do Your Bit For Gond Art?

Gond paintings epitomise breathtaking intricacy in their design, profound narratives through their brushstrokes, and a captivating earthy sophistication that is truly remarkable. These artistic marvels have garnered admiration beyond borders, being highly valued at various international platforms. With the noble intention of making Gond art accessible to connoisseurs from all walks, Planet Handcrafted has curated a range of fine Gond paintings from generational exceptional Gond tribal artists, and has positioned them at very accessible price points. Consider the chasm between the priceless essence of this art and the pragmatic budget considerations of its patrons bridged!

Whether it's a wedding or a birthday; a farewell or a welcome; an anniversary or a housewarming, few things compare to the uniqueness and beauty of a Gond painting as a gift. So, when you seek for memorable gifts to celebrate special occasions,, consider the gift of Gond art – a classy piece that carries stories, colours, and emotions, creating a lasting memory for the receiver.