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Chittara Art

"Originating from Shimoga district of Karnataka"

Chittara Art

Nestled deep in the villages of Hasunvanthe, Honnemaradu and Majina Kaanu (in Shimoga district of South Kanara) in the Western Ghats are the Deewaru tribals` huts that spell magic with their age-old Chittara Wall paintings. These paintings adorn their walls, their colourful imagery bringing out the vivid beauty of the surrounding tropical forests. White from a mixture of rice paste, red from crushed stone, burnt rice for deepest black, yellow from `gurige` seeds - it is a lyrical creative mosaic that Deewaru men and women conjure up. With auspicious geometric motifs ranging from yogic `asana` poses to tribal figures celebrating life, in style and delineation, the Chittara wall paintings and mural crafts seem to take one back to the Stone Age cave paintings.

Today, many young Deewaru men and women are proficient Chittara artists and the compelling heart stopping motifs such as "Mundage Chittara," "Thivage Mane" and "Chippakal Chinnada" still light up the homes of the Deewaru people...

The stylised figures of Chittara painting are generally symbols of brides and grooms, fertility, the sowing of the auspicious paddy, birds, trees, animals etc. Musicians play auspicious music, brides and grooms affect yogic poses or stand in conjugal harmony. The delicacy in its delineation and its repetitiveness, somewhat reminiscent of Warli art, is achieved with fine jute `pundi` brushes. Drawing is free hand and is done with the strictest adherence to the tribal format. Lilting music fills the air as Deewarus draw and paint. Every situation and chore depicted on the wall, has a relevant song.

Today, the vibrant Chittara mural art is being done on hand-made rice paper. At a fascinating exhibition of Chittara mural art, currently on at Dakshinachitra, the mural paintings command attention with their exquisite delicacy, vibrant colours and harmony of composition. Other interesting Deewaru crafts on sale are traditional paddy husk `Kalashas` painted over with Chittara art, as well as papier mache` and terracotta vases and artifacts that come alive with Chittara motifs. Traditional rice husk woven torans and other decorative items, which depict tribal art at its best, are also available at Dakshinachitra.

Hasegode: Hasegode depicts the wedding hall with elaborate details of the mantap (the wedding altar), guests, the couple and festive mood. In the center is the sacred place (altar) where the bride and the groom are seated. The entire community, which is invited to witness the wedding, blesses the couple.

Hasegode Art

Mundige Chittara: Mundige Chittara represents the pillars of the home. In the center is the palanquin, which carries the bride & groom. The `Kelu Kumbha` on the top represents the sacred pot of water. On either side are the arms of Cupid, god of love who blesses the couple. At the bottom are the folk performers who provide the sacred music.

Mundige Chittara Art

Therige mane-Theru: A large chariot-like vehicle is used in the temples of south India to take the idols of gods and godesses in procession during temple festivals. The Deewaru tribals believe in Maramma and Holeyamma (tribal Godesses) who are shown as being carried in the painting. The birds on the vehicle escort the Godesses in the procession, while the tribal men are shown pulling the chariot with ropes.

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