Godna Tattoo- An Age old Art practised by the Tribals in Madhya Pradesh


Blog :: Culture


Godna, a popular form of art practised among the Baiga tribe in Madhya Pradesh is an integral part of their lifestyle. Baiga women especially have extensive tattoos on their body as there are a lot of myths and folklore associated with the origin of these tattoos.  Tribal men too have Godna, with a belief that it is the only ornament that they can carry with them after death also. 

For people in their village, tattooing begins as early as eight years old for girls, with simple lines motifs on the forehead, and they keep adding more as the lady grows up. "For girls this is considered as their form of ornamentation. Even gold and silver does not hold as much value as Godna does.' shared Shanti Bai, a tattooist from the baiga community. 

The art form is used by other tribal communities too like Gond, Baiga, Bharia, Sahariya etc. Godna has many motifs, each having a specific significance - some are curative in nature, while others are applied according to rites of passage in a woman's life - such as puberty, marriage and childbirth. 

However, the objective of Godna is not just ornamentation but the art form is also believed to have some healing practises too.  

The tattoos are highly valued for their powers of healing and their ritualistic significance. The tribals have a belief that getting Godna inked on their body keeps them fit. 'It is due to the medicinal herbs that are used in the Ink of Godna that wounds are cured. It is applied on the areas where there's a cut and sometimes even to treat common cold and aches.' shared  Shanti Bai. 

On the other hand, with the changing times the artists have also made certain changes and included contemporary paints and brushes. In ancient days, natural dyes and vegetable colors were brought in use to make the body art whereas now acrylic paints and brushes are used to paint Godna on the bedsheets and canvases. 

On your next trip to the Heart of India, make sure to meet the living heritage - the tribes of Madhya Pradesh and witness their age-old traditions.