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Pithora - Gujarat

One of the most important Gods of the Rathwa Bhils in and around Chhotaudepur region of the Gujarat State in India is Babo Pithora. When the Rathwa take Babo Pithoro`s vow, the ritual includes painting a big colorful picture on one of the walls of the veranda of the house. The painting is also called "Pithora" which has now become quite known to the outside world. For others who cannot have pithora painted on the walls, the skilled Rathwa artists now paint pithoras on fabric. On a white/unbleached white background of cotton/muslin fabric the bright basic colors look fascinating.

The pithora essentially depicts the past and the present of the Rathwas. The bright colors and unique designs show a special aesthetic sense of the Lakharas (which means a person who writes and not paints!)

Pithora Art
Pithora Art

who produce it and the motifs used, speak about their history and everyday life in terms of various elements of nature to whom they are closely bound. A pithora basically depicts the procession of marriage of Babo Pithora with Pithori Devi. The most significant of the elements in a pithora are the horses in the uppermost row (usually five, of: Ganesha, Babo Pithora, Pithori Devi, Indra (the king of all Gods) and Hudol (the benevolent female spirit) whom they worship.

There are other horses of other Gods and figures in the Bhil history such as Queen Tejal, Queen Kajal, the Godess of Crops, etc. as important participants in the marriage procession. There is a black elephant of the legendary King Bhoj. The sun is painted in the upper most left corner and the moon in the upper-most right corner. The border depicts a mountain range.

Every pithora on the wall is approved by the shaman at the end of the five-day ritual and the marks (dots) of approval can also be seen in the pithora on fabric. A pithora usually has birds, animals and insects commonly found in that region and also mythological figures such as the Ravana from the Ramayana. Every pithora has a boundary and an entrance (in the middle of the lower border) guarded by two panthers snatching a pig and a village guard. The rest of the painting is filled with various images from the daily life such as a group of dancers, persons brewing liquor, milkmaid, hunter, horse-cart, farmer, woman drawing water from the well, police station, granary, umbrella, water hand pumps, aero plane, helicopter, train, etc.

It is a ritual painting and is believed to bring prosperity and good luck to the family.

(Shri Mansing Dhanji Rathwa, of village Malaja and Shri Chiliya Hamir Rathwa of village Rangpur are among the renowned artists of pithora painting. Their paintings have adorned many Government offices; high raise buildings, as well as handicraft emporiums in India and abroad. Shri Mansingh bhai has to his credit painted a pithora in the Rajdhani Superfast

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