Acrylic on paper
Dimensions: 38.1cm (H) x 55.9cm (W) / 15" (H) x 22" (W)
Note: Actual colours may vary due to photography & computer settings.
The Bhil Tribe—native to Western and Central India—amongst approximately 50 other Indian tribes, is the third largest community today. Originally, hunters and great archers living in Madhya Pradesh’s thick jungles—they have long taken to agriculture and some have migrated to large cities taking up masonry, road making and other manual labour. There are several hypotheses that suppose the origin of the Bhil tribe and as a result historians and researchers so far have not quite confirmed any one theory to be true. Numerous attempts have been made to discover the original status and cultural conditions of the tribe since the times of Aryan invasion on Indian subcontinent, if not its racial origin. Although, closer to modern times the Bhils have been mentioned more frequently in the historical texts.
Based in: Bhopal
Bhuri Bai of Pitol was the first Bhil artist to use paper and canvas for her painting. J Swaminathan, the then Director of Bharat Bhawan asked her to paint on a paper, Bhuri Bai began her journey as a contemporary Bhil artist. That day, Bhuri Bai painted her family’s ancestral horse and was thrilled to see the effect of the poster colour as it touched the white paper. “In the village, we had to work so hard to extract colour from plants and clay. And here I was given so many shades of colour and a ready made brush!” Initially Bhuri Bai had found it a little strange to paint in a sitting position. But the magic of painting soon drew her in.
Bhuri Bai now works as an artist in the Adivasi Lok Kala Academy in Bhopal. She is a recipient of the highest award Shikhar Sanman (1986-1987) from the Government of Madhya Pradesh. In 1998, the Madhya Pradesh Government honoured her with the Ahalya Sanman.
Bhuri Bai says, each time she starts to paint, she casts her mind back to various aspects of Bhil life and culture and when a particular theme becomes dominant, she brings it to life on her canvas. And her paintings have captured every aspect of Bhil life – the animals in the forest, the serenity of the forest and its trees, and gatla (memory pillars), the Bhil deities, attire, ornaments and gudna (tattoos), huts and granaries, the haat, festivals and dances and oral narratives. Bhuri Bai has recently started painting aeroplanes, television, car and buses along with trees and animals. And they all seem at ease with one another.
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