Gond Art: Details about Gond Tribal Art and Painting of India


Guest Blog

Gond Tribal Folk art and painting of India

by Pamela


There are around 2500 tribes and indigenous groups that can be found in India. Many art forms, including folk and tribal art, have been influenced by the wide diversity of these groups. Warli art, Bhil and Gond art of Madhya Pradesh, Santhal art, Madhubani Paintings of Bihar, Pithoro paintings of Gujrat and Saora paintings of Odisha are some of the most well-known tribal art styles in India. These tribal art forms are ethnic and mostly practised by tribe members, and they have distinctive colourful designs that frequently depict tales and traditions of their culture, traditions, and beliefs. Here I am going to discuss Gond Tribal Art of India.


About Gond Tribe

While travelling to Mandla I got to know that Gonds are one of the largest tribal groups in the world. Not only in Madhya Pradesh they are also spreading in Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, and Odisha. The word Gond comes from 'Kond' which means green mountains and tribal people are called Gondis as they live mainly in the lush green mountains of Madhya Pradesh.

The tribe believes that seeing a good and happy image brings lots of good luck and positivity to them. They believe that earth, water, and air are ruled by Gods. To worship those natural calamities and gods they celebrate most festivals with songs and dances. On certain occasions, for example, with the Dandari artists, dances retell occasions from folklore. Dhulias are expert musicians and Pardhans (bards) protect legends, fantasies, and history, passing these customs on from generation to generation. Hence Gond tribal paintings are made of various festivals, rituals, and ceremonies.


About Gond Art

Gond art is a famous art of the Gond tribal community of central India which not only include painting but also include folk dances, songs, and performances. It is performed in per traditional way to preserve and communicate the culture of the Gond tribal community.

Gond painting is mostly made in Patangarh Village in the Dindori district of Madhya Pradesh.


History & Origin of Gond Painting

In the 1980s, J Swaminathan was appointed as the director of the Bharat Bhavan Museum in Bhopal.

He wanted to exhibit urban and tribal art together. For this purpose, in search of tribal art, he got to know about Jangarh Singh Shyam, an exceptionally talented painter.

The walls of his house were proof of his magnificent painting, and he was equally excited to come to Bhopal and try new mediums of art.

Shri Jangarh Singh Shyam was the first tribal artist to use canvas and paper for his artwork.

Jangarh Singh Shyam was a Pardhan Gond artist of the village Patangarh in the Dindori district in Madhya Pradesh. Pardhan Gonds are one of the subgroups of the Gond community. Pardhan Gonds are known for their artistic skills such as music, singing, painting, etc.

Jangarh Singh Shyam became famous by exhibiting his paintings in Tokyo and Paris. The Gond painting thus gained worldwide recognition and became the livelihood of many tribal families.


Gond Painting Themes & Designs

The themes and motifs of Gond painting are drawn from local flora and fauna, deities, and urban culture. The theme of paintings is mostly drawn from folktales and Gond mythology therefore these paintings are not mere decorations but also instant expressions of their religious sentiments and devotions. Gond paintings mainly depict the following subjects:

  1. Pictures of peacocks, birds, crabs, mythical beasts, lizards, lions, tigers, deer, snakes, wild boars, cows, monkeys, elephants, horses, fish, etc.
  2. Mahua Tree as Tree of Life. Mahua flowers, fruits, seeds, and leaves are used for many purposes by the Gond tribe.
  3. Myths, legends, and aspects of the daily life of Gond people.
  4. Hindu gods such as Lord Shiva, Lord Krishna, Lord Ganesha, etc.
  5. Local deities like Phulvari Devi (Goddess Kali), Jalharin Devi (River Goddess), Marahi Devi, etc.
  6. Folktales

The central theme of Gond paintings is nature. Gond artists portray nature in various ways in paintings because they believe that the life of man and nature are interlinked.

The use of vivid colours such as white, red, blue, and yellow to portray horses, elephants, tigers, birds, gods, men, and everyday objects is one of the most remarkable elements of Gond paintings. Objects like charcoal, coloured dirt, plant sap, leaves, and even cow dung are used to create the colours. Paintings are created by layering dots in upward, downward, and sideways directions to generate final images.

Some colours and their natural sources are mentioned below.

  • Black: Black colour is made from charcoal.
  • Yellow: Yellow colour is made from ramraj soil.
  • White: White colour is made from chui soil.
  • Red: The red colour is obtained from geru soil.
  • Green: Light green colour is made from cow dung and dark green colour is made from bean leaves.

Gond artists are now using synthetic colours such as acrylic colours, poster colours and oil paints as they are readily available in the market.

The present-day Gond paintings have evolved from Digna and Bhittichitra.

  • Digna, is a traditional geometric pattern on the walls and floors of the houses.
  • Bhittichitra is painted on the walls of houses, and these paintings include images of animals, plants, and trees.

Each Gond artist uses his own distinctive pattern and style to fill the images. These distinctive patterns are called signature patterns.

Some of the patterns used in Gond paintings are:

  1. Dots
  2. Fine Lines
  3. Curved Lines
  4. Dashes
  5. Fish Scales
  6. Drops of Water
  7. Seed Shapes
  8. Geometrical Shapes, etc.

Products using Gond Painting

Artisans make a wide variety of hand-painted products and some of them are:

  • Paintings
  • Wall art
  • Sarees
  • Kurtis
  • Dupattas & Stoles
  • Handbags
  • Trays
  • Boxes
  • Coasters
  • Home Decor

Contemporary Modifications

Modern Gond art painting was created on canvas rather than on the walls and floors. This ensures that it is not only easier to move, carry, and hang on a hook, but also that it is much more durable.

In Bhopal State Tribal Museum, They are showcasing Gond Artwork in different forms 


Their paintings have also grown quite popular on wooden trays, boxes, and other odd objects, which has helped to disseminate awareness and expand its appeal. These paintings, according to the painters, are of such high quality that they can last for up to 20 years without any external interference.

Gond arts may be inspired by Indian mythology and stories, or they may depict pictures from the tribe's daily existence.

Read here about the Major Tribals in MP.

This post is in collaboration with Times Passion Trail & MP Tourism, but the experiences and views are mine.