The cultural mosaic of Jharkhand was dreamt about, shaped and polished by generations of communities, which have inhabited this land since time immemorial.
From the legendary Asurs and Santhals, to the Banjara, Bihor, Chero, Gond, Ho, Khond, Lohra, Mai Pahariya, Munda, Oraon, Kol or Kawar-over thirty-two tribal groups (28 % of the total population of the state), have left their impression on the culture of the region. And with them, were the cross-cultural influences of local non-tribal communities and successive waves of Buddhism and Jainism, Mughal rule and the reign of the Hindu emperors of Bengal.
Art historians ascribe the 'oldest cave paintings' in India, the "scroll paintings" to a Jharkhand tribe known as the Shabars, who today live on the edge of extinction. It is an established fact that Stone Age tools discovered in Hazaribagh district and axes and spearheads found in the Chaibasa area, are remnants of a civilization dating back a few thousand years. 10,000 to 30,000 years old rock paintings, paintings in huge caves in the Sati hills and other indicators of ancient, even pre-historic, human settlements are found in profusion.
Every ethnic community has the blood of tribal memory circling their hearts. Today the Adivasis of Jharkhand are coming back, not to the despair that has marked their recent history, but to the strong sounds of drums, flutes, cymbals and voices raised in song.
When the tribes of Jharkhand gather to celebrate a very special occasion, whether at home or in village society, they make music and dance to its rhythm. Maybe it makes them happy because it brings that long memory back, into the framework of real life.
It does not matter whether you understand the language or the lyrics of the song that the; sing - ekhariya damckach, orjapi, jhumar, fagua, veer seren, jhika, philsanjha, adhratiya or bhinsariya, doad, asadi, jhumti, or dhuria or other important folk-songs - you will recognize that they yearn to carry ancient memory and culture into their lives today.
Percussion, many kinds of percussion, along with a variety of musical instruments are used by Jharkhand tribes to accompany their singing and dancing. The Nagara, made of wood and stretched animal hide played with drumsticks. Interestingly nagaras sound the best in summers, in winter they lose their vibrant beat. The cylindrical Mandar, played by hand. Dhak, dhamsa, damana, Madan bhewri, ananad lahari, tuila, vyang, ar-bansi, shankh, karha, tasa, thala, ghanta, kadri and gupi jantra are some quaint instruments played.
Dance forms echo warrior-like movements of battles fought long ago, for the men. Observations of animal and bird behaviour were also blended into the dancing, sometimes light and airy, sometimes heavy and solemn, as the mood demands. Everyday activities of womenfolk -working in the fields, in the forests, in their homes, all reflect themselves in dance forms like the timeless Chhau, which requires agility, suppleness, skilful hand movements. The Seraikela school of Chhau is held during the Sun Festival. It is influenced by the principles of Bharatiya Natya Shastra but the theme is based on folk-lore, nature and mythology. The choreograph follows Odissi in composition and execution.
Other well-known dances of tribal communities in Jharkhand include festive dancing such as - Sarhul / Baha, where sal and mohua flowers are used ceremonially; the Dansai & Sorhai where the youth sing and dance through the night of karam; Maghi Puja, an important festival of the Munda tribe; Sarhul in which 'shalai' the flower of the sal tree is offered to the gods, with the flower as a symbol of brotherhood; Tusu, the harvest festival, celebrated mainly by unmarried girls. A canopy is added of light wood and covered with thin tissue paper. The pyramidal shaped structure, edged with tinsel and decorated with painted/printed images of local deities (sometimes even film stars), is carried by village woman-chanting songs along the way-to the nearest water resource and immersed in it. Bazra Puja, when Bazra or 'millet' is ready for harvesting; and the Bhagta Parab or the worship of Budha Baba.
Most of the folk dance around Jharkhand is accompanied by traditional music played by the musicians using some traditional musical equipment. Some of the very famous Jharkhand dances are as follows:
Paika is one of the very famous dance forms of Jharkhand. In fact, it is a dance form where martial arts are mixed with some other dance steps. This is why the dance form is only performed by the male members of the society. Paika of Jharkhand is a very interesting dance form of the region. It offers a thrilling entertainment to your eyes as the men risk their lives to perform it. The dancers have to handle a sword in one hand and the shield in other. For protection, they are dressed with safety chest plates and head wears and bells are tied on their ankles.
Paika in Jharkhand is accompanied by the melodious music of Narsingha, Shahnai, Bheir and the Dhak and Nagara drums. This folk dance of Jharkhand is performed for welcoming guests during various functions.
The whole ambience during the performance of this dance form is very charming. The dancers wearing their colorful robes along with the local tribes create fascinating scenery. The dance adds more glaze to the festivities.
Chhau is one of the finest folk dances of Chhota Nagpur Plateau region. The folk dance is performed in various states that lie in this region such as West Bengal, Bihar, Orissa and Jharkhand. The word Chhau is derived from the Sanskrit word Chhaya which implies shade, image, or mask.
Chhau of Jharkhand is a very beautiful dance form where the dancers cover their faces during the dance with a mask and it is this mask that attracts your attention towards the dance. Chhau is different from classical dance because in the latter dance form facial expressions are must, whereas in Chhau, it is the body movements including the neck and head gesture. In Chhau, the dancers use the mask and their body gestures to convey the stories. A commentator stands aside who not only narrates the whole story with dialogues but also sings the songs. During Chhau in Jharkhand, music is played using various instruments such as Nagara, Jhanj, Mohuri, Turi, Clude Dhol, Dhumsa, Flute, Bheri and Conch shells.
Over the years, this folk dance of Jharkhand has been classified into various forms but the most authentic and original version of the dance is available only in Jharkhand. The melodious music and the colorful dancers with their brilliant dancing skills intoxicate you so much that you do not feel like leaving the place before its completion. So if you like dancing and are always open to learn, then the best place to learn Chhau would be in Jhrakhand where the original version is performed. Some of the very famous stories that have been performed through Chhau in Jharkhand are Ramayana and Mahabharata.
Santhal is a very popular folk dance of Jharkhand. It is a group dance performed by Santhal tribes of Jharkhand. This dance was performed by the Santhal tribes during all special festivals and occasions. This dance not only reveals the culture or traditions of the local tribes but also showcases the strength of unity. The main attraction of the Santhal dance in Jharkhand is the colorful costumes worn by the tribal people. The typical garments worn by men during the Santhal are dhoti and a turban but the main attraction is their body decoration with various species of flora. Since the Santhal are believed to be close to nature, they use natural things such as leaves, branches and flowers to do their make-up and design their clothes.
If you wish to witness the fun and frolic of Santhal dance at Jharkhand then do visit it during the spring season for it is during this season that the Santhals celebrate the spring festival where they perform the folk dance. The colorful environment of the festival is made more charming and attractive by the musicians who play the music on various folk instruments such as cymbals, pipes, flutes and drums. Moreover, the singers also put the right chord with the rhythm. After, the Bamboo folk dance of Assam and Mizoram, it is the Santhal dance of Jharkhand which is very popular among the tourists of north eastern region. Moreover, the Santhal dance would also help you in exploring the life style and culture of the Santhals.
Karma is a very popular folk dance of India. Though the folk dance is performed in other states such as Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, it can be enjoyed the best in Jharkhand. The folk dance is performed in the month of August during the Karma festival.
This folk dance of Jharkhand has derived its name from a tree named Karma which is considered sacred because people believe that it brings good luck and prosperity. Hence the Karma festival is nothing but a celebration for the plantation of this tree. Karma at Jharkhand seeks the participation of both men and women. The festival starts with the plantation of trees after which the dancers get into a circle and dance with their hands around each other's waists. While dancing, they pass on the branch of the tree to each other.
After the branch of Karma gets a complete circle, it is washed with milk and rice. It is the belief of the local tribes that after these rituals, the branch should not touch the earth. After this, once again the branch is raised in between the dancers.
During the Karma of Jharkhand, the men leap forward with the rapid roll of the drums whereas the women bend down with their feet moving to and fro with the beats of the music. The dance of Karma in Jharkhand is accompanied by the melodious music of folk music instruments such as Jhumki, Thumki, Chhalla and Payri. Various forms of Karma are performed in various regions. The two most popular forms of Karma in Jharkhand are Lahsua and Khare. This dance in Jharkand is performed mainly by Baigas and Gonds.
Jharkhandi Art, Craft & Living
Jharkhand is full of surprises. Archaeologists have unearthed pre-Harappan pottery, and pre-historic cave paintings and rock-art that hint at ancient, cultured civilizations inhabiting these parts. If you look at the intricate woodwork, the pitkar paintings, tribal ornaments, stone carvings, dolls and figurines, masks and baskets, will tell you how deep into time these manifestations of culture go, how the well-spring of creativity continues to recharge the spirit of the tribes and the state itself.
Among the most delicate, fragile, beautiful ands threatened indigenous traditions of India are for example, the Kohvar and Sohrai paintings, which are sacred, secular and relevant to a woman's world. This is the art practiced exclusively by married women, during weddings and at harvest time, and the skill and the information is handed down to younger females of the clan.
Comb-cut or finger-painted, Kohvar art celebrates marriage, and the wall-painted Sohrai, bumper crops. Elaborate design motifs, animal and plant forms, fertility motifs are abundant and often echo ancient cave art found in the surrounds. The colours used are all natural - neutral earth shades, red oxide from stone, red ochre, kaolin white, manganese black earth etc.. Blue and green are aberrant colours and do not feature prominently.
Jharkhand is known for its wood work, bamboo works, pitkar paintings, tribal ornaments and stone carving. The beautifully carved wood products and bamboo products show the craftsmanship of the Jharkhandi people. Lack of promotion and marketing for these products has mostly resulted in extinction of some crafts like paitkar paintings and stone carvings. Wood Craft: Once a dense forest area, Jharkhand with the abundance of wood, resulted in the use this for creating variety of wood articles for household requirements. Bamboo: The bamboos found in the Jharkhand forest are thin but flexible and strong. Using these, the artisans of Jharkhand produce different artifacts like basket, haunting and fishing equipment.
The people here are to be much involved into artistic approaches in whatever they work, to name some of the fame arts in this region could be Oraon Bhitichitra, Santhali Bhitichitra and Jado Patiya are the styles of paintings that still exist.
Crafts for Life, Life for Crafts
Superb craftsmen for generations, the tribal communities of Jharkhand have created and perfected exquisite works of art based in the rich and unique natural resources of the land.
The slender, strong and supple bamboo is sculpted into beautiful and practical articles such as door panels, boxes, spoons, hunting nd fishing equipment, boat-shaped baskets, rice huskers and bowls that are smeared with pink and leaf-green powder on ritual occasions.
'Pattal' plates and bowls made from 'sal' leaves are used widely during wedding and other festivities. "Sabai ghaas' or wild grass is woven into bowls, pen-stands, coasters and mats, or dyed and woven into intricate and colourful boxes, dolls, table mats and Christmas tree decorations. Chaibasa region is famous for these.
Small villages around Ranchi have for generations created finger-painted toys from palm leaves, some with detachable limbs and wheels for mobility. These toy-makers create elaborate toys based on the wedding of Lord Rama, and brilliant parakeets with red beaks and paddy green feathers.
'Kanghee' combs are wonderful items for use and decor. Wood axes with tribal motifs burnt into their handles, are collectors items, but found in almost any weekly 'haat' or village bazaar.
Upturned, bowl shaped umbrellas of cane are used in fields, but can be used in any corporate garden. Finely carved door panels, wood inlay boxes, wooden Crosses and Virgin Mary figurines and the crown of thorns rendered in wood - are crafted in villages like Khunti.
Tribal theme toys and carvings, like a band of drummers, ancient 'bird-woman' figurines, statuettes of tribal leaders like Birsa Munda and those of mighty and mythological animals such as the Rhino, all created in wood, will delight connoisseurs and art-collectors and scholars alike.
The people of Jharkhand though they are tribal base they are good craftsmen with great workmanship, they excel in terracotta, bamboo-work, Seenk-work, Kasida, Pottery, Stone craft, textiles etc; apart from these they do wonderful body paintings , tattoos, stone cutting, bull painting ( during Bandna) folk painting fresco, sculpting horse, elephant etc; for the uses of rituality. Scroll painting or Paitkar is famous but recently becomes obsolete.
Crafts of Jharkhand
The crafts of Jharkhand form a very significant part of the cultural lineage of the state of Jharkhand in India. The crafts at Jharkhand exhibit a great deal of expertise. But, the perfection of the craftsmanship is not matched with necessary promotional activities. Due to this, the crafts in Jharkhand, as a whole, have not received the national and international acclaim that it deserves.
Some of the important crafts in Jharkhand are bamboo crafts, wood crafts, metal works, Paitkar paintings, ornaments, stone carvings and toys.
The bamboo crafts of Jharkhand exhibit wonderful hand work. The important bamboo articles in Jharkhand include different baskets. Other bamboo articles of the state are the accessories used for fishing and hunting. The Jharkhand crafts of wood are mainly of day-to-day use. The different articles that the people of Jharkhand make include window, boxes and the panels of doors.
The Paitkar paintings, also called the scroll paintings, are mainly based on the theme of what happens to the human life after death.
The main varieties of jewellery that the tribal people of Jharkhand wear are the ornaments meant to be worn on the different parts of the arm including wrists, earrings and neck pieces. The metal works of Jharkhand include hunting implements, weapons, agricultural equipments and ornaments. The stone carvings of Jharkhand are another important form of craft, which is gradually becoming extinct. The toys of Jharkhand are mainly made up of wood. The toys are colorfully painted and can be moved according to one's will.
Wood crafts of Jharkhand: The wood crafts of Jharkhand form one of the most significant art forms in the state. Earlier, the state of Jharkhand had plenty of forestland, which gave a massive supply of wood. This led to the large-scale use of wood in making a variety of articles of daily use.
A great variety of wood crafts in Jharkhand are made by the people of Jharkhand, which exhibit a blend of beauty and utility. The items are mostly of daily use, but the beautiful designs that they showcase make them pieces of art. The different shapes and sizes of Jharkhand wood crafts that they produce include things as mundane as boxes and the panels of doors.
The boxes as well as the panels exhibit wonderful patterns carved out of hard wooden surface. Windows made of wood are also included in the list of items that the tribal groups of the state of Jharkhand produce. The people of the state make beautiful spoons with intricate designs on them with wood. The tribal people of the Jharkhand State are involved in different types of wood crafts of Jharkhand. These carvings require a great deal of skill. The wooden articles are quite in demand within as well as outside the country of India.
However, the recognition that the people of Jharkhand get for the labor they put in producing wood crafts at Jharkhand is not sufficient. This is due to the lack of marketing strategies of these tribal people. The wooden articles that are produced by the tribal population of the state need to be promoted for the economic and social improvement of this impoverished lot.
Bamboo crafts of Jharkhand: There are quite a few forms of craft in the eastern state of Jharkhand and one of them is the bamboo crafts of Jharkhand. The people of the state who belong to the different ethnic groups in the state are mainly engaged in this form of craft. The Jharkhand bamboo crafts that the tribal people of Jharkhand are engaged in show a great deal of intricate and fascinating hand work, which is quite unique to the state of India. The major articles that are made out of bamboo in Jharkhand include baskets and accessories used for fishing and hunting.
The bamboo crafts in Jharkhand that the ethnic people of the state of Jharkhand make are mostly carved out of the bamboos available locally. The variety of bamboo produced by the bamboo grooves of the state is not very thick. However, these bamboos are suitable for the different kinds of bamboo crafts at Jharkhand, since they are not weak and yet can be twisted and turned to a great extent.
The bamboo crafts that the people of the state of Jharkhand make out of bamboo show a lot of deftness in the profession. But, unfortunately, these beautifully crafted items carved out of bamboo have not got the critical acclaim that they deserve.
This is owing to the fact that these articles are mostly made by the tribal population of the state and these people are not quite aware of the ways of today's world including marketing or advertisement. This lack of awareness keeps the rest of the world quite unaware of what these people are creating.
Paitkar paintings of Jharkhand constitute one of the most popular crafts of the state of Jharkhand. The Paitkar paintings at Jharkhand are one of the most ancient schools of painting in the entire country of India. Yet, they are not as much in demand in India and abroad as they ought to be. This is due to the fact that most of the forms of craft of the state are mainly the domain of the tribal people.
The historical lineage of the Paitkar paintings of Jharkhand can be traced to the culture associated with the state of West Bengal. The cultural heritage of this old form of painting has associations with one of the most well known goddesses in the Bengali household, Ma Mansa. The Paitkar paintings of Jharkhand have links with the socio-religious custom of holding yajnas and giving alms.
The Paitkar paintings in Jharkhand are also popularly known as the scroll paintings. The form of painting has got its name from its character. The paintings that belong to this school have a common subject of what happens to human life post death.
These people have not been able to spread the name of their creations far and wide. Particularly, the Jharkhand Paitkar paintings are suffering a massive setback and in near future, it might transform into a form of painting of the past. The tribal people of the state of Jharkhand can not save this ancient art form from extinction due to their inability to market it owing to financial constraints.
Metal works of Jharkhand constitute one of the most well known forms of craft in the whole state of Jharkhand in India. The metal works at Jharkhand exhibit a wonderful amalgamation of utility and looks.
The Jharkhand metal works produced by the ethnic people of the state can be classified into four broad categories. These are the weapons, the ornaments, the hunting implements and the agricultural equipments. The two main metals used for making different kinds of jewelry are silver and gold. They make metal weapons mainly for defensive purposes. The hunting and agricultural equipments help the people of the state in their ways of livelihood.
There are two communities in the state of Jharkhand whose names are specially associated with the Jharkhand metal works. These are the Tentri community and the Malhar community. These two communities have become popular throughout the state of Jharkhand for the expertise they show in the metal works in Jharkhand.
The people of the communities of Thentri and Malhar are very efficient in the technique of casting of iron. The artisans of these two communities mainly specialize in metal articles of day-to-day use. They cast iron to produce such articles.
In comparison to the level of craftsmanship these metal works of Jharkhand show, the acknowledgement they have received is quite nominal. Most of the metal works of Jharkhand are created by the people belonging to the various tribal communities of the state. These people are not well accustomed as the urban people with the industrial strategies like advertisement and other forms of promotion.
The stone carvings of Jharkhand constitute one of the most well known forms of craft in the state of Jharkhand in the eastern part of the subcontinent of India. The stone carvings in Jharkhand show quite a lot of efficiency on the part of the artisans. They make fine and beautiful designs on stone.
Their work deserves a large-scale recognition. But unfortunately, the stone carvings at Jharkhand have not got the fame that they should have. This is owing to the fact that most of the carvings on stone in the state are the domain of the people who belong to a variety of tribal sects. These people are not well equipped with the nuances of the industrial world. Hence, they have yet not been able to acquire the promotional skills.
The Jharkhand stone carvings are gradually becoming a dying small-scale industry due to the lack of its promotion. This ancient form of art very badly needs some funds for its marketing. Some initiative should be taken by the government of Jharkhand or some private sector organization, which is interested in keeping alive this art.
A very few stone carvers still exist in the state of Jharkhand, though they too depend on some alternate profession for their bread and butter, due to the lack of market value of the stone carvings of Jharkhand.
Jharkhand ornaments are one of the major forms of crafts in the state of Jharkhand in India. The ornaments created by the people belonging to the tribal groups of Jharkhand show a great deal of perfection in the art.
The people belonging to different tribal groups have a special knack for beautifying themselves with a wide range of ornaments in Jharkhand. However, the kind of ornaments that they prefer to wear is not very complicated or elaborate.
The major types of jewellery that they wear are neck pieces, earrings and ornaments worn on the wrists and other parts of the arm.
The artisans of the state of Jharkhand in the eastern part of India are involved in making basic ornaments. They use two kinds of metal for making jewellery. These two metals are silver and gold. The people of Jharkhand also like to wear another type of jewellery, which are mainly made up of beads. The ethnic people of the state occasionally wear Jharkhand ornaments made with various kinds of precious stones.
The different types of ornaments of Jharkhand are yet to achieve the name and fame that they deserve within India as well as outside the country. The ornaments at Jharkhand have not attained a large-scale market due to the fact that most of these jewelleries are created by the ethnic people, who are not well equipped with the activities necessary to promote an art form.
The art of ornament making has developed into one of the foremost art forms in the state due to the high level of interest of the tribal people in jewellery.
Jharkhand toy making is one of the major crafts of the state. The people who belong to the various ethnic communities of the state show a great deal of expertise in the art of toy making. The main framework of the toys, which are the products of Jharkhand toy making industry, is cut out of wood.
The craft of toy making in Jharkhand is not devoid of the technological aspects of the modern world. The toys are often equipped with wheels, so that children can control and move them according to their own whims and fancies. The toys have limbs that can be moved with the help of a string. The flexible toys are made up of portions of palm leaves. These leaves are painted with fingers or dotted with pink color.
The toys are painted with bright colors for drawing the attention of the little children. The toys created by the people of Jharkhand are inspired by the world around.
The craft of toy making of Jharkhand has thrived particularly in the hilly areas of the state. Another region that is well known for this art form is the surrounding area of Ranchi, which is the capital of Jharkhand. These places of the state boast of a couple of families which have picked up the skills of toy making at Jharkhand generation after generation.
Source: Jharkhandi Art n Culture - http://jharkhandi.com/art.aspx