Saturday, July 2, 2022
Madhya Pradesh


Ritual Motifs and Clay Designs

In Madhya Pradesh the countryside woman makes interesting patterns of flowers, creepers, trees and human figures.

Verandahs and inner rooms of the houses are decorated with bold designs. Small niches and alcove are elegantly outlined by wet clay carrying lace-like impressions.  Swirling designs are worked out on main entrances of the houses.  In these designs each line ends in stylistic swirl. Satiyas (Swastikas) are made and spirals are reliefed into empty spaces.  All motifs bear local names.  Those who are cultivators draw Hal (plough) and Bakkhar (leveler) on the front walls of their houses.

Mandana is a decorative art.  On festive occasions like Holi, Diwali, Dussehra and Nag-panchami women first give a finish to the floors and mud walls with cow-dung, and then draw traditional Mandana designs characteristic of the region. y The paint is prepared by mixing Rati (colour made out of red earth) and Khadia (chalk) in water. Haematite is employed to heighten the effect wherever necessary. Symbols like Keri ( unripe mango), Jowar Ka Bhutta (millet flower) and Chauk (square) are made with many interwoven variations and polygonous figures, hexagrams, pagliya (foot marks) Chhi Phulya (six-flower pattern) etc are drawn with skill. All these designs are embellished by Bharvan (space-filling) devices.  The figures employed to this effect are Laddu (ball), Tipki (dot) and Laharia (waving lines).  The Gonds and Bhumia tribes also practice decoration through Mandana type of motifs.  When lagan (wedding) is performed the design of chauk is drawn on a seat with ochre (geru mati).This figure is basically a cross surrounded by circles.

The striking art of Sanja displays the imaginative sense of Malwa girls. During the month of September when Shradha Paksh starts, young maidens make designs on mud walls with cow-dung.  Each day the pattern is changed and it continues to change for a full fortnight.  Cow-dung lines are decorated with flower petals and panni (tin foils). The Sanja figures represent a set of fifteen designs in which each and every piece of pictograph shows the imagination of girls and purpose with which they are led to draw them.

The sixteenth day of the Sanja festival is supposed to be the concluding day for the Sanja motif.  The importance of the day is maintained with solemnity and a big design is worked out called Kalakot.  The Kalakot is entirely representative of all the Hindu customs.  Every inch of the space is used and many unrelated details are drawn.  The human figure is symbolic in representation.  Two triangles meeting each other at a point, with head, legs and hands resting on different arms of the triangles complete a human figure. By adding two circles for breasts, the figure would suggest a woman's shape.  The treatment of flying birds is done by drawing simple impression of wings into action. Figures of a peacock and an elephant are a must in the Kalakot. They are thickly outlined to give a characteristic look.

In Bundelkhand during the Diwali festival the pictograph of Sureti is made on a white smeared space of wall.  The figures probably represent Lord Vishnu and his consort, Lakshmi.  There are other figures like Nag and Nagini, the sun and the moon etc. This form of art is very crude. It simply indicates that the purpose of such figures is not to produce an exact imitation of the objects, but to retain traditional associations with them through their suggestive drawings. The Mai Mata (old mother) with a loaded bullock-cart and the Bherum (one of the mythological deities) of Malwa and Nagji, the serpent god, subsequently called Jireti in Nimad are some of the ritual figures worth notice.

In Mandla, an Agria (village smith) use a bamboo tube for making coloured patterns. A bamboo tube is first drilled with several holes. Then it is filled with turmeric powder (yellow), wheat flour (white) and gram flour (orange).  After this, it is rolled for drawing designs over the ground.  The mixed flour emits out from the holes making different kinds of patterns.

The use of Mehndi (henna) during the auspicious occasions by the women of Malwa reveals interesting designs. Palms, feet and fingers are painted by the henna paste. Each design is identified with some sort of a name.  Every space is utilised around the central motif to give perfect look to the Mehndi Mandana.