Godna

‘Godna’ (tattoos), a popular form of art among tribals, is being experimented beyond its traditional usage by Chhattisgarh women, who are trying to give this primitive artistry a modern twist by using it on textiles.

The tribal women are improvising on the art form by painting ‘Godna’ on fabrics, silk, canvas, wall and doors and various other means, instead of just body painting and are experimenting for reviving the art form, which is fighting for its survival because of fall in popularity and emergence of tattoo fashion in urban areas.

Godna Art comprises permanent ornamentation of the body with tattoos by the Bastar tribes of Chhattisgarh state. Godna art is regarded as the post modern way to beautify one’s body. Godna, like other branches of tattooing, requires artistic dexterity, patience and aesthetic appeal. The main aim of tattooing the body is to make the individual attractive for the society. Sometimes this art is also done on the private parts of the body. This exquisite art done on the canvas of human body renders a unique beauty to the tribals which is the permanent ornamentation and lasts forever. Majority of tribal women of Chhattisgarh decorate their bodies with tattoos called “Godna”. Some of the tribal men also have this art on their bodies. Tribal beliefs say that these are the only ornamentations which remain with them even after their death. Some art historians suppose it started as an acupuncture practice. While some say, in ancient times it was used to pass on secret coded messages. However majority believe the purpose of the art was simply to add ornamental designs to the body for fashion sake, also to mark which tribe the individual belonged too.

Godna art is believed to be the adaptation of a primitive form of art. Presently it is done extensively by the women belonging to the Jamgala village situated in Lakhanpur Block of Sarguja. This region has a tradition of adorning women with tattoos..  The drawing style is quite similar to Madhubani paintings. They use natural colour obtained from the forest and combine them with acrylic paint to make it more stable on fabric. The artists were painting with fine brushes on fabric as diverse as kosa and canvas. “Godna is essentially tattoos on textiles, and in this way the tradition of tattoos is preserved on cloth,”