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Sustainability in Indian Paintings: Embracing Eco-Friendly Art

In recent years, sustainability has gained significant traction across various sectors. As people become more conscious of their environmental impact, the demand for eco-friendly products has risen dramatically. Indian traditional art forms, by their very nature and origin, have been using sustainable practices, making them an excellent choice for those looking to integrate sustainability into their lives. At Truly Tribal, we take pride in showcasing and promoting these timeless, eco-friendly art forms. Let's delve into some of the most celebrated Indian paintings that champion sustainability through their use of natural materials and methods.

Phad Painting: A traditional art form from Rajasthan, Phad scroll paintings narrate epic stories of local deities and heroes. The artists use stone colours, derived from minerals and stones found in and around Shahpura, which are ground into a fine powder. This powder is mixed with natural gum and water to make a homogeneous paste after a long process. This technique ensures that the colours are long-lasting and eco-friendly. The canvas, known as "Phad," is a thick cotton cloth treated with starch made from rice or wheat flour, which is then burnished with a stone to create a smooth surface. This process not only makes the canvas durable but also sustainable.

Odisha Pattachitra: Originating from the state of Odisha, Pattachitra is a traditional scroll painting known for its intricate details and mythological narratives. Artists use flower-based colours and kajal (lamp black) to create these exquisite artworks. White is obtained by powdering a conch shell and boiling it with kaitha gum until a paste is formed. Black is made from lamp black or lamp soot, which is collected by placing a burning lamp inside an empty tin. The soot is then mixed with gum to form a paste. Green is created by boiling neem leaves with water and kaitha gum. Red comes from a stone called Hingulal, blue from Khandneela, yellow from Hartal, and brown from Geru stone. The canvas, typically a piece of cloth or an old cotton saree, is coated with a mixture of chalk, tamarind, and gum to create a smooth painting surface. Even the finer brushes used by the chitrakars (painters) are made of mouse hair with wooden handles. This practice emphasizes the use of natural and locally sourced materials, making Pattachitra a sustainable art form.

Tala Pattachitra: Similar to Odisha Pattachitra, Tala Pattachitra also uses flower-based colours and lamp black. However, the unique aspect of this art form is its canvas, which is made from palm leaves. The leaves are first dried and treated, then stitched together to create a flexible and sustainable canvas. The use of natural dyes and palm leaf canvases highlights the environmental consciousness embedded in Tala Pattachitra.

Warli Painting: Hailing from the Warli tribe of Maharashtra, Warli paintings are minimalist yet expressive depictions of tribal life. The primary medium for these artworks is a mixture of cow dung and mud, which is used to coat the walls of their homes, providing a natural canvas. The artists use rice paste to create the characteristic white figures and patterns. This method not only recycles organic materials but also promotes the use of locally available resources, making Warli painting a model of sustainability. When creating this art on canvas, artisans use cotton handloom Manzarpat as their canvas and similar cow dung and mud with locally sourced gum to recreate the base, mimicking the wall art.

Santhal Painting: Originating from the Santhal tribes of West Bengal, Bihar, Odisha, and Jharkhand, Santhal paintings are renowned for their vibrant depictions of tribal life and folklore. These paintings employ plant-based colours derived from natural sources like leaves, flowers, and roots. The process involves extracting dyes from plants such as indigo for blue, henna for green, and turmeric for yellow. These natural dyes are then mixed with a binder like gum Arabic to create sustainable and eco-friendly paint. The canvases for Santhal paintings are typically made using recycled cotton rags, further emphasizing the commitment to sustainability.

Tanjore & Mysore Painting: Tanjore paintings from Tamil Nadu are famous for their rich colours, surface richness, and compact composition. Traditionally, these paintings use natural dyes derived from vegetables and minerals. The canvas is a wooden plank covered with a cloth, which is then coated with a paste made from limestone and a binder like tamarind seed. This creates a smooth, durable, and eco-friendly base for the elaborate paintings.

Kalamkari Painting: Originating from Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, Kalamkari is a traditional hand-painted or block-printed art form. Artists use vegetable dyes extracted from plants, roots, and minerals. For instance, colours are derived from sources like pomegranate bark, iron filings, and jaggery. The fabric used for Kalamkari, usually cotton or silk, is treated with natural mordants to ensure the colours adhere well. The process involves soaking the fabric in a mixture of cow dung and bleach, followed by several washes in buffalo milk, ensuring a completely natural and eco-friendly production method.

These traditional Indian art forms not only preserve cultural heritage but also exemplify sustainable practices. By using natural colours and sustainable canvases, these paintings reduce environmental impact and promote eco-friendly art. At Truly Tribal, we encourage you to choose sustainable options in gifting and home decor. By supporting these traditional art forms, we can celebrate our rich cultural heritage while also protecting our planet for future generations. Choose sustainable art, choose Truly Tribal.

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