[Kurukshetra June 2024] Tribal Art and Culture- Significance and Challenges- Explained Pointwise

ForumIAS announcing GS Foundation Program for UPSC CSE 2025-26 from 10th August. Click Here for more information.

The Tribal art and culture reflects the creative energy found in rural areas that acts as an undercurrent to the craftsmanship of the tribal people. Tribal art includes wide range of art forms such as wall paintings, tribal dances, tribal music etc. Tribes have rich and unique cultural traditions which includes their own language, music, stories and paintings.

In this summary of Kurukshetra, we will explore the significance of Tribal Culture, the challenges in its protection and the measures that need to be taken to preserve them.

Tribal Art and Culture
Source- Kurukshetra
Table of content
What are some of the prominent examples of Tribal Art in India?
What is the significance of Tribal Art and Culture?
What is the global relevance of Tribal artwork?
What are the government of India’s initiatives for Tribal Art promotion?
What are the challenges Faced by Tribal Art Forms in India?
What should be the strategies for Global Representation and protection of tribal art?

What are some of the prominent examples of Tribal Art in India?

Warli Art (Maharashtra)The warli art has evocative depictions of daily life, rituals, and folklore. It utilizes basic geometric shapes to convey harmony with nature.
Gond Art (Central India)It is inspired by nature and tribal folklore. Gond artists create detailed narratives featuring deities, animals, and celestial beings. It is marked by its vibrant hues, intricate patterns, and rich mythological themes.
Madhubani Painting (Bihar)Madhubani painting is a traditional art form that has been passed down through generations of Maithili women. This painting often depicts scenes from Hindu mythology and rural life. It is known for its intricate motifs, bold colors, and geometric patterns.
Pattachitra Art (Odisha)Pattachitra artworks frequently depict scenes from epics like the Ramayana and Mahabharata. It is renowned for its meticulous detailing, vibrant colors, and mythological narratives.
Santhal Art (Eastern India)Santhal artists employ natural materials like clay, dyes, and bamboo to create artworks reflecting their deep connection to the environment and community. It features earthy tones, rustic charm, and tribal motifs.

What is the significance of Tribal Art and Culture?

1. Symbolism and connection to Nature and life- Motifs that symbolise natural elements, and spiritual elements are central to many tribal artworks. For ex- The Bhil tribe of Central India employs a distinctive style involving dots and dashes to narrate stories, where each dot represents a grain of millet. This signifies prosperity and connection to their agrarian way of life.

2. Medium for education and cultural continuity- The tribal artwork fosters a sense of identity and continuity in tribal communities. Each artwork serves as a repository of community knowledge and traditions.

3. Heartbeat of tribal celebrations and rituals- The tribal art and culture reflects the cultural expression of India’s tribal communities. For ex- The Santhal tribe of Jharkhand is renowned for its rhythmic drumming and folk dances that narrate stories of harvest, hunting, and festivals.

4. Representation of our glorious past- The art work serves as reminder of our glorious past. It tells us about their beliefs and how they live. For ex- Pattachitra art from Odisha use it to tell stories from Hindu myths.

5. Source of livelihood- The tribal handicrafts and paintings are important source of livelihood for the tribal community. For ex- Commercialisation of Worli art work printed sarees and paintings.

6. Community Bonding- The creation of tribal artwork is community-based approach. It enhances individual abilities but also strengthens the bonds within the community.

What is the global relevance of Tribal artwork?

1. Emphasis on sustainability and minimal environmental impact- The emphasis on sustainability and minimal environmental impact serves as a model for the global community. In a world grappling with environmental issues and the pursuit of sustainable living, these art forms and daily practices of India’s tribal communities offer valuable lessons in eco-friendly Iiving.

For ex- The use of organic materials in craft, the conservation of local flora and fauna
through sacred groves, and the sustainable harvesting practices all highlight an integrated approach to living that can inspire global environmental strategies.

2. Coexistence and respect for all life Forms- The tribal communities of India, through their art and lifestyle, champion a balance between human needs and environmental stewardship.  This provides a blueprint for sustainable living that the rest of the world can learn from.

3. Maintenance of ecological balance and cultural richness- Tribal art is not only a cultural treasure but a pivotal element in the global dialogue on sustainability.

What are the government of India’s initiatives for Tribal Art promotion?

Zonal Cultural Centres (ZCCs)Seven Zonal Cultural Centres (ZCCs) across the country have been set up to preserve and promote various forms of folk art and culture of the tribals.
Documentation of indigenous practicesMinistry of Tribal Affairs provides funding for documentation of indigenous practices like tribal medicine, languages, agriculture, dances, etc. A digital repository has been developed to preserve and promote tribal cultural heritage.
TRIFEDTRIFED (Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India) has been organizing Adi Mahotsav festivals for the protection and promotion of tribal art and culture.

What are the challenges Faced by Tribal Art Forms in India?

1. Lack of Preservation Efforts- Insufficient support and recognition has made it difficult for the tribal art forms to survive in the modern world.

2. Shifting Preferences and Globalization- The rise of contemporary and digital art forms have contributed to a decline in the popularity of traditional Indian paintings. For ex- The mass production of cheap replicas has also diminished the value and exclusivity of authentic traditional artwork.

3. Limited Exposure and Awareness- The lack of educational initiatives, museums, and galleries specializing in traditional art hinders the promotion and exposure of tribal art work.

4. Displacement, Marginalization, and Assimilation of Tribal Communities- Tribal communities have been facing challenges such as displacement, marginalization, and assimilation. These have have threatened the very existence of their cultural heritage.

What should be the strategies for Global Representation and protection of tribal art?

1. Protection of Intellectual Property- Protecting the intellectual property (IP) rights of tribal art is critical for ensuring that tribal communities are recognised and rewarded for their cultural contributions. Establishment and enforcement of IP rights is essential to prevent unauthorised use and appropriation of tribal designs, motifs, and techniques. 

For ex- Introduction of geographical indication GI tags for tribal arts, such as Warli paintings, has proven to be an effective measure in safeguarding these cultural expressions

2. Promotion of Ethical Tourism- Ethical tourism encourages interactions that are sensitive to the cultural traditions and ecological realities of tribal communities. It educates tourists about the rich cultural tapestry of the tribes and also create economic opportunities that benefit the tribal communities directly.

3. Establishment of Living Museums- Living museums offer interactive experiences that allow visitors to engage directly with cultural practices and daily life activities of tribal communities. These museums provide a unique opportunity for cultural education and appreciation, bridging the gap between the past and the present.

For ex- Dakshinachitra in Tamil Nadu and the Tribal Museum in Madhya Pradesh illustrate the successful implementation of living museums.

4. Cultural exchange Programs- International cultural exchange programs, exhibitions, and collaborations can bring tribal art to a broader audience. This would ensure that these practices are not only sustained financially but are also appreciated as essential elements of the global cultural mosaic.

Read More- The Hindu
UPSC Syllabus- GS 1- Indian art and architecture
Print Friendly and PDF