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Mandana, The Oldest Form Of Tribal Art

India is a land of artistic pursuits, a creative culture, and traditional heritage. Amongst the multifarious tribal art forms created by the varied Indian communities, Mandana is one of the significant and oldest ones. It is largely done in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and central part of India. It is an art form especially made by the women of the community called Meena.

Although it comes under one of the lost art forms, Mandana is still practiced in Tonk and Sawai Madhopur, two villages in Rajasthan. It is practiced to decorate the houses during the festive seasons like Diwali and Navratri. During these commemorative moments the houses are thoroughly cleaned and ready to be freshly adorned by Mandana wall paintings. Women of the locality come together to paint their homes with the strikingly beautiful visuals.

The History of Mandana

Mandan by the local dialect means “drawing” and “decoration”. Mandana decoration, a tribal art form, is traditionally carried out by ladies of the households. It is specially made on the auspicious days like communal worship occasions, during the time of birth or marriage as a way of celebration, wedding ceremony, etc. It is a gesture of preparation and being ready to accept the blessings of the gods.

The reason behind especially made on sacred days is spiritual; the paintings generally include the forms of main holy deities. Historically it is said that the deity is invoked through these paintings. At the same time, it also projects itself as the gods and goddesses for the matter of worship.


The motifs of Mandana paintings include decorative forms, birds, female figurines, animals, Vedic yagna, Ganesh god, etc. Rendering in multiple stylistic ways, Peacock is one of the most used bird forms.

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Art Making Process Of Mandana

Owing to the objective of keeping the perils at bay, Mandana is generally painted on the walls and floors and exterior parts of the house. Also, often it has been observed some houses paint the inside walls, too.

A semi-liquid mixture of cow dung, rati– a form of local clay, and red ochre is used to prepare a base on the floors or walls. Once the base is appropriately dried, the design or the decided forms are drawn. These forms are drawn using a twig of date, cotton, hairs. etc. Various locals use various tools according to the means of availability. They are then flat filled by lime or chalk powder. Natural pigments like geru (Indian red), khadiya (white) are used to colour these forms. The shades are simple and earthly.

Significance of Mandana Art

Considering the mythological and traditional perspective, Mandana is largely created to ward off the evils and negativity from the homes and local. With the absence of negativity, it believed by them that the deities or gods will be pleased to bless them.

It is also believed that Mandana painting represents as a protective coat to the house from the malevolent spirits.

Due to mass production and concretization, Mandana art is gradually losing its popularity. However, the visual forms of Mandana art appear to have been utilized on fabrics like sarees and stoles. Moreover, Mandana art is eventually being adapted to modern aesthetics.

Featured “Photo of Mandana art work at shilpgram” by Chinmayisk under CC BY-SA 4.0

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