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Painted Clay Relief of Sarguja, Chattisgarh

Clay, Terracotta, Pottery

Painted Clay Relief of Sarguja, Chattisgarh

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In the Sarguja district, the women of farming community known as Rajwar are highly skilled in the art of painting walls, doorways and wall skirting of their house and other items of daily use. They prefer keeping their immediate environment happy and aesthetically beautiful.

Rajwars worship Hindu deities and their dead ancestors. Their most important festival is Chherta. It is celebrated on full moon day of lunar month of December. This is a post-harvest festival during which women of Rajwar community paint their homes and other items of daily use like shelves and jars with lipan, which is a mixture of unfired clay and cow dung. Motifs of gods, animals, birds, trees, human and other three-dimensional figures are drawn. Illustrations are made with various colors such as ochre, blue, red, green and yellow colors keeping the base white.

Clay reliefs are also made on jhinjira /screens, patani /shelving system and dodki /storage bins creating a unique element across the house. The lattice structure is made with thin bamboo strips, covered thinly with pooval /paddy hay, mixed with grog and sandy clay that has been smoothened. There is no specific order of motifs as they are created spontaneously. The geometric figures are created row upon row. The base color white is obtained from choohi i.e. white clay and black color is procured from the soot of oil lamps.

Due to this art of creating motifs out of clay, the walls and structures of the houses get restored and repaired every year. This practice leads to creating a vast amount of new motifs. The basic tools required to create this clay art are paintbrushes.

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