Tattooing is widely practiced
among the Adivasis of Madhya Pradesh. They treat the tattoo marks as worthy of
social importance. The Chirlya (bird) mark must be borne by a Bhil woman prior
to her marriage and is always tattooed at the side angles of the eyes.
Tattooing after marriage is not
regarded as auspicious. Both for the tribals and non-tribals of the peasant
class the desire to attain status in their respective communities is an
anthropomorphic concern. Tattooing serves as an expression to derive
satisfaction through the symbolic confirmation of their group codes. Every
member tries to be with the group. Tattooing gives him a feeling of security.
There is a belief among the Bhils that the figures drawn on the body are the
evidence of good deeds which go with a person to his post-mortem existence. With
them he is in a position to explain his past. The Bhils are more fond of their
own traditional marks. From the tattoo marks, one could distinguish whether the
symbols represented belong to any tribal group or any other community.
Women are used to thick tattooing
on visible parts of their bodies. In the Bundelkhand region amongst the rural
people there is a saying that whereas all other ornaments of a woman are taken
off when she dies, tattoo marks are her only fortune she carries to the next
world. Chhattisgarhi women are more fond of tattooing. They fix up the marks by
injecting vegetable dye into the skin through continuous pricking of a needle
Tattooing is mostly done by mutual
help. Godharin or the wife of a village sorcerer is usually invited to do this
job. The Dewar community of Chhattisgarh has adopted this profession as a side
job. The Badnin, i.e. a woman of the Badna caste among the Gonds does this kind
of work for token payment. She also prepares the mixture used as ink.
The practice of tattooing with the
paste, prepared by lamp-black mixed with linseed oil is slowly vanishing as the
professional tattooers are always available who do it by mechanical means.
Tattoo marks have a great significance for the tribes of Bastar and the Bhils of
Malwa and Nimad. Their tattoo figures express the kind of behaviouristic mode of
their clan-complexions. The figures also represent the fineness and the symbolic
beauty of the things associated with their daily life.
Painting the body on ceremonial
occasions continues to be a ritual for the tribals. A male dancer always takes
care to decorate his body with white and red stripes to give the impression of a
tiger. The Muria dancer prefers to paints the rows of dots to look like a