Santhal

The Santhal people are aboriginal people of Bihar and West Bengal who speak a pre-Dravidian language of Santali, worship their Santal bongas or spirits, their regulate village life in a democratic manner and celebrate their own Santal festivals, with dancing and feasting. They earn their living by wandering from village to village showing scrolls and chanting the traditional tribal stories of creation, death and life in the underworld.

The Santhal tribe, one of the famous tribes belonging to the Bihar state of India, has a typical style of painting, known as Santhal paintings. Painted freehand, these two dimensional paintings reflect their perception of life. The third dimension, the depth is always lacking in these paintings reflecting the simplicity of the artist. Sometimes these paintings also tell how simple and colourful their imagination can be. They put colours to the blandest creations of the nature at times. They can be treated as the expression of their desire to colour the nature as well, if we think philosophically. The bodies of the various forms that they paint are seldom or perhaps never in one shade, they are always striped, dotted or filled with any other geometrical pattern. They are done on a handmade paper with poster colours. The topics are selected from the natural surroundings or just from the happenings of their day to day lives. The harvest, a field, a happy family, dance, beating wife, quarrel, wine party, gods and goddess almost everything finds an expression on their canvas.