Notes on Antique Textiles, Folk Art & Timeless Traditions – Jaina Mishra
I was in Orissa in January and the month of May is about to end, and yet the tribal life that I experienced there remains unshared on this blog.
Was it tardiness or was I too busy?
It took only 20 seconds of reflection to note the obvious answer to this question.
Tribal life in Orissa had delighted me totally! There was so much that I got out of that trip that every time I sat down to formulate my thoughts, I found it hard to compress all the narrative and the visuals into a sequentially written article. In order to do justice, I thought I would need a long undisturbed week to remember, re-live & recreate the atmosphere & the experience. And so I kept delaying it. Until I reached a point where I was beginning to forget the sights and smells and the thrills of seeing that old world.
I now realise that complete justice to that experience is not going to be possible ever.
And so I am writing this in the best way I can – using loads of images to convey everything.
The experience was very very subtle – like the curls of smoke from incense. Hard to capture.
In that sense, the Orissa trip was like the Arunachal Pradesh trip – everything is muted – and the experience really needs to be sought out and tweaked out with sensitivity and alertness. It doesn’t come at you in your face and if one is not alert it is easy to miss the beautiful things.
In this article I have included a kaleidoscope of tribal portraits and their lifestyle, their gorgeous home-art and their worship-art all in one because one can only be comprehended completely if presented alongside the other.
Presented below are the costumes, the jewelry, the art and the dances of the beautiful, innocent and wonderful tribals of Orissa!
Note the thatched leaf hut that is his home (above)
Note that the ground of her hut is layered with cow dung – a common material for floors & walls.
Worship spaces consist of a holy stone that has been decorated with flowers and leaves. There is a Hindu influence but most seem to have an animistic ideology that is distinct and unique. Roosters are sacrificed to the almighty at specific festivals. The images below show the gods / shrines used by the different tribes.
The homes of the tribals are made of basic materials and have very little in terms of furniture and other possessions. They are frugal in the economic sense – but as can be seen below, in the artistic sense their homes are extravagant! Each family creats its own artwork in a style that is common & unique to the tribe. The extravagance of art on these walls is enviable! This is a prime example of folk art that is thriving in a belt that continues to live in the glorious past undiluted by the influence of homogenising media. A glimpse below:
Below are examples of wall art from Odisha in eastern India that are EXACTLY LIKE Warli art of a tribe in Maharashtra in Western India. I have not educated myself yet on the rasons for this commonality, but it certainly suggests a some migration and common origin.
This is one more place I will return to. For its innocence, for its beautiful life that is firmly placed in the past even now. That such a world offering ‘time travel’ exists is a marvel and deserves to be visited again and again and again.