Tribal Art of India
There is so much in the everyday life of the Indian tribal folk that requires to be changed: there is poverty, disease and ignorance. But there is so much in it that has to be preserved and nourished for the good of the country as a whole, and that includes tribal art in all its forms. The major features of Tribal Art of India are discussed below:
There is such richness in the folk-music and the folk-dances of India as can enrich and inspire the efforts of the most advanced of India’s modern artists.
It is good to note that dance and music performances by invited representatives of various Indian tribes now form a regular item of the official programme for the annual Republic Day celebration at New Delhi.
Every tribe has several myths, often mutually contradictory, about its origin.
Poetry, dramatic stories and music generally go together. All kinds of poetry have been found among the Indian tribes. They have seasonal songs, marriage songs, dance songs, hunting songs, incantations, and funeral chants. Songs are sung in solos, in duets and also in choruses.
Riddles, proverbs and sayings also are common among all tribes. They are the ‘spice’ of every language.
Tribal dances like the karma of the Gond and the bihu of the Assam tribes are justly famous, so is tribal music.
Among the musical instruments used by Indian tribes mention may be made of drum of various types, pipes, flutes, horns, anklets, brass-plates, etc.
Within the range of graphic and plastic arts among Indian tribes mention may be made of painting; wooden and stone sculpture and statuettes.
Decoration of the human body is a pleasing artistic activity, executed by using elaborately decorated clothes as also ornaments and cowries, by scarification and tattooing.
Embellishment of dress, combs, head-dresses and tobacco-cases is common.
Art is also bestowed on hair-pins used by brides, marriage-posts, marriage-litters, metallic lamp-stands used at marriages and marriage-crowns.
The representations of demons, dummies and other products of fantasy are also artistically produced.
However, god not generally comes in for artistic representation.
Funerary pillars and memorial tablets are art products all over tribal India.
Walls and doors, and even floors are decorated. These decorations often acquire highly stylized and conventionalized forms.
Stools, chairs and cot also come in for decoration through engraving.
Totemic flags and emblems are always products of artistic effort.
In dances musical instruments and masks are widely used. Whereas the former receive artistic embellishments the latter are entirely products of art.
Animals, birds and hunting scenes are also depicted in painting or in engraving.
Textiles, basketry and pottery come in for occasional ornamentation.
Articles of normal everyday use like cots, pottery and grain-huskers are generally not artistically decorated in Middle India.
The Naga are also known to decorate their weapons of war and the human heads they capture as only befits a trophy.