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Chhattisgarh’s Surguja district’s fading traditional tattoo art

Published: 18th Apr, 2022


Godana artists work under Chhattisgarh’s Hastshilp Vikas Board and the state handloom federation of artisans. 


About Godana work:

  • Tattooing is an age-old tradition of India in general and tribal societies in particular. In Northern and Central India, tattooing is popularly known as ‘Godna.’ 
  • The practice of tattooing is widely prevalent across Chhattisgarh. It is a form of body art practiced mostly by women on women, mainly amongst adivasi and ‘lower’ caste communities from this region.
  • The word used for this practice is godna, which refers to the piercing of the body with needles.
  • The tattoos serve varying functions- seen as markers of social identity; they are equally a form of bodily adornment that outlives death.
  • Sometimes they signify rites of passage- the sita rasoi motif is tattooed on women as they prepare to enter a life of domesticity.
  • Women in Jamgala, in Lakhanpur district of Sarguja, like Safiano Bai, Ramkeli and Budh Kunwar, have revived traditional Godi godna, by mixing natural pigments procured from the forest with acrylic paint to stabilize these on fabrics.
    • Ladies of Jamgala now make table cloths, napkins, kurtas, saris, wall hangings and even bed sheets. 
  • Modernisation has influenced Godna art and artists to a great extent.
    • Tattooing has shifted from body to paper, cloth and canvas.
    • Female tattooists have played an important role in the dissemination of Godna painting in India and abroad through exhibitions and workshops.

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