Gond Painting: Tribal Folk Art of the Gond Tribe

Gond Painting of Lion
Gond Painting of Lion

About Gond Painting

Gond painting is a famous folk art of the Gond tribal community of central India. It is done to preserve and communicate the culture of the Gond tribal community. Gond tribal art includes folk dances, folk songs, and Gond paintings.

The present-day Gond paintings have evolved from Digna and Bhittichitra.

The Gonds paint Digna, a traditional geometric pattern on the walls and floors of the houses.

Bhittichitra is painted on the walls of houses, and these paintings include images of animals, plants, and trees.

Women use natural colors to paint the walls and floors of their homes.

Gond Tribe

The Gond tribe is one of the largest tribal communities in India. These tribals live in Madhya Pradesh, Telangana, Bihar, Maharashtra, Odisha, and Andhra Pradesh. The main occupation of the Gond tribe is agriculture or daily wages.

The word Gond comes from ‘Kond’ which means green mountains and tribal people are called Gondis as they live mainly in the lush green mountains of Madhya Pradesh.

The Gond tribe believes that seeing a good image brings lots of good luck to them. Hence Gond tribal paintings are made on various festivals, rituals, and ceremonies such as Diwali, Karva Chauth, Nag Panchami, birth, marriage, etc.

Traditional Art of the State of Madhya Pradesh, India

Gond painting is a traditional art of Madhya Pradesh and belongs to the Gond tribe. It is mainly done in Patangarh Village in Dindori district of Madhya Pradesh.

Gond artists make a wide variety of hand painted products and some of them are:

  • Paintings
  • Sarees
  • Kurtis
  • Dupattas
  • Stoles
  • Handbags
  • Trays
  • Boxes
  • Coasters
Gond Hand Painted Dupatta
Gond Hand Painted Dupatta

History and Origin of Gond Painting

In the 1980s, J Swaminathan was the director of the Bharat Bhavan Museum in Bhopal.

He wanted to exhibit urban and tribal art together. For this purpose, he sent some of his students to various villages in Dindori district in search of various tribal Gond artists.

There they found very talented young men and women. One of them was Jangarh Singh Shyam, an exceptionally talented painter.

The walls of his house were proof of his magnificent artwork and he was equally excited to come to Bhopal and try new mediums of painting.

Jangarh Singh Shyam

Shri Jangarh Singh Shyam was the first tribal artist to use canvas and paper for his artwork.

Jangarh Singh Shyam was a Pardhan Gond artist of the village Patangarh in Dindori district in Madhya Pradesh.

Pardhan Gonds are one of the subgroups of the Gond community. Pardhan Gonds are known for their artistic skills such as music, singing, painting, etc.

Jangarh Singh Shyam became famous by exhibiting his paintings in Tokyo and Paris. The Gond painting thus gained worldwide recognition and became the livelihood of many tribal families.

Gond Painting Raw Materials


Handmade paper, canvas or even chart paper that are readily available in the market are used to make Gond paintings.


Bright colors such as red, yellow, blue, green, etc., are commonly used in Gond art. Natural colors are obtained from charcoal, colored soils, plants, leaves, cow dung, etc.

Some colors and their natural sources are mentioned below.

  • Black: Black color is made from charcoal.
  • Yellow: Yellow color is made from ramraj soil.
  • White: White color is made from chui soil.
  • Red: The red color is obtained from geru soil.
  • Green: Light green color is made from cow dung and dark green color is made from bean leaves.
Gond Painting of Fish
Gond Painting of Fish

Gond artists are now using synthetic colors such as acrylic colors, poster colors and oil paints as they are readily available in the market.


Paintbrushes of various sizes are now used to make Gond paintings.

Gond Painting Themes & Designs

The themes and motifs of Gond painting are drawn from local flora and fauna, deities and urban culture. Gond paintings mainly depict the following subjects: –

  1. Pictures of peacocks, birds, crabs, mythical beasts, lizards, lions, tigers, deer, snakes, wild boars, cows, monkeys, elephants, horses, fish, etc.
  2. Mahua Tree as Tree of Life. Mahua flowers, fruits, seeds, and leaves are used for many purposes by the Gond tribe.
  3. Modern design such as airplanes, bicycles, cars, technology, etc.
  4. Myths, legends, and aspects of the daily life of Gond people.
  5. Hindu gods such as Lord Shiva, Lord Krishna, Lord Ganesha, etc.
  6. Local deities like Phulvari Devi (Goddess Kali), Jalharin Devi (River Goddess), Marahi Devi, etc.
  7. Folktales.
Gond Art of Tree of Life
Gond Art of Tree of Life

The central theme of Gond paintings is nature. Gond artists portray nature in various ways in Gond paintings because they believe that the life of man and nature are interlinked.

Gond Painting Signature Patterns & Styles

A pattern is a decorative design that is repeated several times to fill an image.

Each Gond artist uses his own distinctive pattern and style to fill the images. These distinctive patterns are called signature patterns.

Some of the patterns used in Gond paintings are:

  1. Dots
  2. Fine Lines
  3. Curved Lines
  4. Dashes
  5. Fish Scales
  6. Drops of Water
  7. Seed Shapes
  8. Geometrical Shapes, etc.

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