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Santhali Sohrai murals: An etch in time

  • Category
    Art and culture
  • Published
    22nd Mar, 2022

Context

The Santhali communities of Odisha and Jharkhand are changing their ways of painting Sohrai murals.

About

Sohrai Khovar Painting:

  • It is a traditional and ritualistic mural art being practised by local tribal women during local harvest and marriage seasons using local, naturally available soils of different colours in the area of Hazaribagh district of Jharkhand.
  • The style features a profusion of lines, dots, animal figures and plants, often representing religious iconography.
  • Khovar refers to the decoration of the marriage chambers and Sohrai is the harvest painting on the mud houses, repairing it after the rains and offering a thanksgiving to the forces of Nature.
  • In 2020, Jharkhand received a Geographical Indication tag for its Sohrai art particularly for the murals painted by women in Hazaribagh district who do not belong to the Santhal tribe.
  • The murals of Hazaribagh are more primordial with different motifs, whereas the Santhali Sohrai art features only geometric shapes.
  • Women of Hazaribagh only use earth colours — red, black and white — for their murals.

About Santhals:

  • The Santal, or Santhal, are an ethnic group native to India and Bangladesh in South Asia.
  • Santals are the largest tribe in the Jharkhand state of India in terms of population and are also found in the states of Assam, Bihar, Odisha and West Bengal.
  • The word ‘Santal’ is derived from two words; Santa meaning calm and peaceful and ala meaning man.
  • In the past, the Santals were leading a nomadic life.
    • Gradually they came to settle down in the Chotanagpur plateau.
  • Ethnic Language of Santal:
    • Santali language belongs to the sub family of Austro-Asiatic cluster and classified under the ‘Mundari’ group of languages.
    • They have their own scripts known as Ol-Chiki discovered by Pandit Raghunath Murmu in the year 1920s.
    • Initially ‘Ol-Chiki’ was regarded as copied one and also considered as one which doesn’t have any characteristic of language.
    • In the year 2003, the Santali language has been included in the eighth schedule of the Constitution of India.

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