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Traditional Village Murals in Hazaribagh

Updated: Apr 11, 2022

The wonderful thing about all traditional art, and this includes rural and village murals of Khovar and Sohrai painting in Jharkhand, is that it is a celebration of the natural flowering of its ordinary unadorned environment by simple women artists just repairing and in the process decorating their mudden homes into spaces of great artistic beauty. This is an ancient unbroken tradition going back tens of thousands of years to the prehistoric rock art found everywhere on the Indian subcontinent including Jharkhand. It is the village art in a process of evolution and it requires no aids or artistry since it is a natural human expression and as great artists everywhere have realised it is the sublimest expression of which humans are capable.

What has been called art by modern art afficionados for too long has been mere artistic junk which in the form of imaginative exercises through experimentation and hallucinatory exercises produces a cocktail of visual nonsense and which is a western pastime and unfortunately today it is being practised in the sacred realm of traditional Indian art. Seeing the sudden value being attached to traditional Indian artforms artists have begun seizing on the gullible imagination of the naieve to seduce them into believing it is a form of modern traditional art ! Only the greatest artists such as Pablo Picasso or M F Husain can indulge in this sort of thing and achieve the absorption of tribal art into their genre. That is why so called modern expressions of great traditional art in India under the aegis of hallucination have no visceral grip upon the imagination like the natural village murals have. This is because these traditional works are natural expressions of highly evolved traditional societies. They have for too long been buried under colonial prejudice in India and shown as unimportant expressions of backward societies.

That is why bringing these simple or complex village artforms into the showcases of the International art world is so necessary to acknowledge the importance of these indigenous treasures of India's cultural heritage in their village environments. The Khovar bridal room paintings and Sohrai harvest murals in Jharkhand are examples of such great art which the world has already celebrated. Today when India is going through a celebration of its traditional heritage led by our government it is time all of us wake up to the importance of these village artforms.

Bulu Imam

Sanskriti, March 2022

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