Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Tattoo Art of the Baiga tribe.

About the Baiga

Baiga tribe of central India is one of the most primitive tribe of India. The Baiga tribes used to practice shifting cultivation in forest areas without using the plough.They used to have a semi-nomadic life style till the advent of Britishers and started living in more permanent settlements.They live in simple houses with hardly any  adornment. Their houses generally consist of a single room and there is a Parchhi adjoining it in the front. There is a courtyard in front of the Parchhi, a hedge of sachcher woods is created around the house which they call Parda.
Tattooing is an integral part of their lifestyle is the Baiga tribe.The body of a Baiga women is extensively tattooed. There is a specific tattoo for every part and the tattooing is done by people of Badi-Badanin community.Their principal dance forms are Baigani, Karma, Saila, Bilama, Parghauni, Fag, Jharpat, Gendi etc. 

Tattooing amongst Baigas


The art of tattooing is extensively prevalent amongst the Baigas.It is one of the many tribes  in which the women’s body is almost completely tattooed .There are lot of myths and folklores on the origin of tattoos.The female of the Badi tribe(Badnin) does the tattooing for the Baiga women (Baigin) One such folklore narrates the story of creation of the    ‘ Badi and Badnin’. Lord Indra the lord of universe was furious with other Gods and refused to send rain to earth. The earth was getting parched quickly, and would face a huge famine soon. Lord Shiva and Parvati got very concerned and requested Naga Baiga and Naga Baigin to persuade Lord Indra to shower rain on earth. The female Baigin did not possess any ornaments ,she needed to look her very best to meet the Lord.Hence Lord Shiva and Parvati created the Badi and Badnin .The Badnin were given the task of  decorating the body to the Baigin with tattoos.
The Baigas believe that the pain the Baigin(woman ) endures during tattooing  prepares her for labour pain during child birth, that the tattoo is their identity mark(Different tribes have their specific tattooing patterns).Tattoos are only ornaments that will go with them to heaven when they die.The tattoo patterns usually signify fire, crops, grains, peacocks(amba), pair of hens, chariot, flowers, trees , eyes etc.

Tattoo patterns rear portion of body

Tattoo patterns for Baiga women(full body)
Shantibai and Mangalabai with the tattoo paintings.

Tattoo patterns for upper half, Motifs used are bee hive motif, bulls eyes, Jhela(jewelry piece)



Tattoo patterns upper back.

Tattoo patterns back of legs

Tattoo patterns front legs
Tattoo patterns Arms

Artist Shantibai

Shantibai of  Lalpur, is an accomplished tattooist, and belongs to a sub sect of the Baiga tribe ‘Badi’.The Baigas are known for their traditional body decoration.The women tattooist are called “Badnin”.Shantibai is a Badnin and has inherited this art from her forefathers. She draws inspiration from religious motifs and mythological stories prevalent amongst Gonds and Baigas.Her daughters Mangala , Jamni and mEena bai are taking this  dying art forward.
verse was furious with other Gods and refused to send rain to earth. The earth was getting parched quickly, and would face a huge famine soon. Lord Shiva and Parvati got very concerned and requested Naga Baiga and Naga Baigin to persuade Lord Indra to shower rain on earth. The female Baigin did not possess any ornaments ,she needed to look her very best to meet the Lord.Hence Lord Shiva and Parvati created the Badi and Badnin .The Badnin were given the task of  decorating the body to the Baigin with tattoos.

The Baigas believe that the pain the Baigin(woman ) endures during tattooing  prepares her for labour pain during child birth, that the tattoo is their identity mark(Different tribes have their specific tattooing patterns).Tattoos are only ornaments that will go with them to heaven when they die.
The tattoo patterns usually signify fire, crops, grains, peacocks(amba), pair of hens, chariot, flowers, trees , eyes etc.Motifs signifying jewelry are also used.
Needles used for tatoos

Needles used for tatoos

                                                               Video on how tattooing is actually done

The Godna the art of tattooing is dwindling.as compared to the urban youth who are crazed by getting themselves inked with modern tattoo guns.There are lesser number of women wanting to pursue this profession as there are no takers for the tattoos. Earlier it was common to see a girl of six to seven years having a tattoo on her forehead.Life in the villages experience gradual changes but technology has started creeping in their lives too. Advance in technology and access to education has its effects too. Girls and boys going to schools are now not interested in getting tattoos. Tattooed girls who make it to college, are often sneered at.

About 10 years ago when she was visiting the local fairs for tattooing some tourists suggested her that she should experiment using the art form on textile and paper.It was from then she started her crusade to preserve her tradition and also to learn stable livelihood .





6 comments:

  1. thank you for sharing your work

    ReplyDelete
  2. How can i get myself inked with this culture art?

    ReplyDelete
  3. You will have to fix a date and time , and come to bhopal or go to their village .Coming to Bhopal is easier.The artist travel to bhopal often.

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