The Bhils- are a tribe native to the western and central region of India. They are the third largest tribal community in the states of Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Maharashtra. The word Bhil is derived from the Dravidian word ‘vil’ mean the archer. They speak Bhilli which belongs to the Indo Aryan family of languages.
Like any other tribe, Bhils decorate their houses, walls, temples with paintings using vibrant colours. The paintings are done on mud walls which are first plastered with mud and cow dung. The figures drawn are mostly sacred and ritualistic. These paintings are drawn on various occasions like marriage ceremony, ritual ceremonies or festivals. Daily life scenarios are also depicted in these paintings. The purpose of these paintings lies in promoting fertility, avert diseases, propitiating gods, etc.
Natural colours were used traditionally to produce brilliant paintings using turmeric, vegetable leaves, blackberries which would give yellow, green, blue, purple and so on. Artists also used rock or clay from their habitation and surrounding areas to make colours. Some Bhil artists are also experts at relief work, glass painting, mural works, emboss paintings etc. This give them a new medium to explore their self-expression.
Raw materials were first crushed to make powder and then mixed with warm water to form a paste. Rice powder was also mixed with water to use it as paint. Twig of bamboo or neem is used as a painter’s brush for traditional painting. Nowadays, acrylic colours and synthetic brushes are used by young artists.
The motifs are classified into nature-inspired motifs like sun, star, moon; geometric designs like dots, vertical and horizontal lines; Animal and bird motifs like cattle, snake, elephant, rat, tiger, peacock; and floral motifs like a leaf, flower, plants, and banyan tree.