Gond Art: Details about Gond Tribal Folk Art and Painting of India

There are around 2500 tribes and indigenous groups that can be found in India. Many art forms, including folk and tribal art, have been influenced by the wide diversity of these groups. Warli art, Bhil and Gond art of Madhya Pradesh, Santhal art, Madhubani Paintings of Bihar, Pithoro paintings of Gujrat and Saora paintings of Odisha are some of the most well-known tribal art styles in India. These tribal art forms are ethnic and mostly practised by tribe members, and they have distinctive colourful designs that frequently depict tales and traditions of their culture, traditions, and beliefs. Here I am going to discuss the Gond Tribal Folk Art of India.


About Gond Tribe

While travelling to Mandla I got to know that Gonds are one of the largest tribal groups in the world. Not only in Madhya Pradesh they are also spreading in Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, and Odisha. The word Gond comes from ‘Kond’ which means green mountains and tribal people are called Gondis as they live mainly in the lush green mountains of Madhya Pradesh.

The tribe believes that seeing a good and happy image brings lots of good luck and positivity to them. They believe that earth, water, and air are ruled by Gods. To worship those natural calamities and gods they celebrate most festivals with songs and dances. On certain occasions, for example, with the Dandari artists, dances retell occasions from folklore. Dhulias are expert musicians and Pardhans (bards) protect legends, fantasies, and history, passing these customs on from generation to generation. Hence Gond tribal paintings are made of various festivals, rituals, and ceremonies.


About Gond Art

Gond art is a famous folk art of the Gond tribal community of central India which not only include painting but also include folk dances, songs, and performances. It is performed in per traditional way to preserve and communicate the culture of the Gond tribal community.

Gond painting is mostly made in Patangarh Village in the Dindori district of Madhya Pradesh.


History & Origin of Gond Painting

In the 1980s, J Swaminathan was appointed as the director of the Bharat Bhavan Museum in Bhopal.

He wanted to exhibit urban and tribal art together. For this purpose, in search of tribal art, he got to know about Jangarh Singh Shyam, an exceptionally talented painter.

The walls of his house were proof of his magnificent painting, and he was equally excited to come to Bhopal and try new mediums of art.

Shri Jangarh Singh Shyam was the first tribal artist to use canvas and paper for his artwork.

Jangarh Singh Shyam was a Pardhan Gond artist of the village Patangarh in the Dindori district in Madhya Pradesh. Pardhan Gonds are one of the subgroups of the Gond community. Pardhan Gonds are known for their artistic skills such as music, singing, painting, etc.

Jangarh Singh Shyam became famous by exhibiting his paintings in Tokyo and Paris. The Gond painting thus gained worldwide recognition and became the livelihood of many tribal families.


Gond Painting Themes & Designs

The themes and motifs of Gond’s painting are drawn from local flora and fauna, deities, and urban culture. The theme of paintings is mostly drawn from folktales and Gond mythology therefore these paintings are not mere decorations but also instant expressions of their religious sentiments and devotions. Gond paintings mainly depict the following subjects:

  1. Pictures of peacocks, birds, crabs, mythical beasts, lizards, lions, tigers, deer, snakes, wild boars, cows, monkeys, elephants, horses, fish, etc.
  2. Mahua Tree as Tree of Life. Mahua flowers, fruits, seeds, and leaves are used for many purposes by the Gond tribe.
  3. Myths, legends, and aspects of the daily life of Gond people.
  4. Hindu gods such as Lord Shiva, Lord Krishna, Lord Ganesha, etc.
  5. Local deities like Phulvari Devi (Goddess Kali), Jalharin Devi (River Goddess), Marahi Devi, etc.
  6. Folktales

The central theme of Gond’s paintings is nature. Gond artists portray nature in various ways in paintings because they believe that the life of man and nature are interlinked.

The use of vivid colours such as white, red, blue, and yellow to portray horses, elephants, tigers, birds, gods, men, and everyday objects is one of the most remarkable elements of Gond’s paintings. Objects like charcoal, coloured dirt, plant sap, leaves, and even cow dung are used to create the colours. Paintings are created by layering dots in upward, downward, and sideways directions to generate final images.

Some colours and their natural sources are mentioned below.

  • Black: Black colour is made from charcoal.
  • Yellow: Yellow colour is made from ramraj soil.
  • White: White colour is made from chui soil.
  • Red: The red colour is obtained from geru soil.
  • Green: Light green colour is made from cow dung and dark green colour is made from bean leaves.

Gond artists are now using synthetic colours such as acrylic colours, poster colours and oil paints as they are readily available in the market.

The present-day Gond paintings have evolved from Digna and Bhittichitra.

  • Digna, is a traditional geometric pattern on the walls and floors of houses.
  • Bhittichitra is painted on the walls of houses, and these paintings include images of animals, plants, and trees.

Each Gond artist uses his own distinctive pattern and style to fill the images. These distinctive patterns are called signature patterns.

Some of the patterns used in Gond’s paintings are:

  1. Dots
  2. Fine Lines
  3. Curved Lines
  4. Dashes
  5. Fish Scales
  6. Drops of Water
  7. Seed Shapes
  8. Geometrical Shapes, etc.

Products using Gond Painting

Artisans make a wide variety of hand-painted products and some of them are:

  • Paintings
  • Wall art
  • Sarees
  • Kurtis
  • Dupattas & Stoles
  • Handbags
  • Trays
  • Boxes
  • Coasters
  • Home Decor

Contemporary Modifications

Modern Gond art painting was created on canvas rather than on the walls and floors. This ensures that it is not only easier to move, carry, and hang on a hook, but also that it is much more durable.

In Bhopal State Tribal Museum, They are showcasing Gond Artwork in different forms 


Their paintings have also grown quite popular on wooden trays, boxes, and other odd objects, which has helped to disseminate awareness and expand its appeal. These paintings, according to the painters, are of such high quality that they can last for up to 20 years without any external interference.

Gond arts may be inspired by Indian mythology and stories, or they may depict pictures from the tribe’s daily existence.

Read here about the Major Tribals in MP.

This post is in collaboration with Times Passion Trail & MP Tourism, but the experiences and views are mine…


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13 thoughts on “Gond Art: Details about Gond Tribal Folk Art and Painting of India

  1. How interesting to learn more about the Gonds and their colourful art. The colours are certainly vivid. Amazing that all of these colours come from natural sources. I am sure we would learn much of daily traditions looking at the Gond Art. So great that the art covers a variety of topics and helps to pass down the heritage.

  2. I would love to learn more about the arts and handicrafts of the Gond tribe. Amazing that they get such bright colors with natural pigments only. Is it also possible to visit any workshops in the area?

  3. It’s so interesting to see how the Gonds are keeping their culture alive and continue to work on their art and crafts. Their paintings are so vivid, I love how they use the colours to express good luck and positivity. It’s also extremely interesting to see how the art doesn’t stop at painting, but it is extended to dance and music as well.

  4. I did know a bit about Gond Art but not to the extent that you have explained here. Wonderful learning truly being one interested in Art. The beautiful creations does provide a great insight. Thanks for sharing with us. Makes every Indian proud of our culture.

  5. What a refreshing read about Gond Art. I can’t say that I did not know it all – like how they use nature themes and the organic colors but tiny details like how they make the colors is what I enjoyed the most. It is good to see how they have made it to contemporary canvas – they are truly timeless and this is a great way to preserve this ancient art.

  6. I appreciate all kinds of art, so what a treat to learn more about Gondi art. I love the vibrant colors and shapes, and would have to agree that it makes you feel hopeful and happy! Very interesting to learn about the natural substances used to create the colors, and the common shapes that are present in Gondi art, too. After reading this, I will more easily recognize it. As a nature lover, it’s especially appealing to me!

  7. I am from India and yet I wasn’t aware of Gonds. Thanks for enlighting me about them and I am surely going to visit and support them. It’s great to see the things they are making, very traditional. Wish the cultures lives forever.

  8. I love the vibrancy of the Gond artwork and the intricacy of their paintings. It is good that they are handing down their heritage through expressing themselves in their art.

  9. The Gond art does stand out, love the intricate designs and the variety therein. So lovely to know that an art form has evolved from the prevailing Digna and Bhittichitra.

  10. I heard about Gond tribal group but never gave a heed to know more about it. Your post is really very informative and engaging with all the information and details about the tribal group and it’s presence in India.

  11. Gond arts are such happy depictions that one cannot but get attracted to this art form. I love the way they have given this art form a contemporary twist over time. We use a tray at home which is painted in Gond art. I did not know Kond meant hill. No wonder this word is also used by tribes of Orissa.

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