Bastar Crafts & Cultures - A Photo Essay.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Now that we’ve seen the natural beauty of Bastar, let’s get to the cultural tourism that prevails here. Being home to the indigenous tribes, this district boasts of a varied style of craftwork. For instance, the bell metal handicraft called Dokra is famous all over the world. I am sure you must have seen those tribal artifacts with long hands and legs and slim bodies in stores like odyssey or landmark and wondered which famous designer designed them. Well these are the bell metal handicrafts produced here native to this region.

Location – Saathi Samaj Sewi Sanstha, Kumharpara, Kondagaon - the craft village.
Distance from Jagdalpur – Around 70-80 kms.

Also one of the other famous craftworks from here is the terracotta crafts and especially the beautiful elephants with bells. There are whole villages dedicated and surviving on the same profession as the terracotta potters or the Dokra craftsmen. The native tribes here have such talent that has been evolving since ages. The main industry here is either craftwork or agriculture.

The wrought iron wall hangings were peculiarly interesting. The sleek frames made out of wrought iron depicting the everyday life of the tribes here were used as window frames, doors and gates. The black frames looked very pretty with their earthy mud houses in shades of red and brown.

For the architecturally inclined, there are hordes of age old temples scattered all along with varied history, style and importance. There is also one temple called “Mama Bhanja ka mandir” meaning the temple of the uncle and the nephew. The name amuses me endlessly! :)

Dussera is a super grand event for these people and you wouldn’t believe if I said they celebrate it for 75 days! But yes, they do. It spans over 75 days, starting with haryali amawasya in shraavan (July) the festival involves participation of all major tribes of Bastar. Bastar Dussehra has several components, each of which has a history of its own. These include Kachan Gadi, Consecration of the couch of Devi Kachan who visits upon a young girl as she swings on a couch of thorns; Jogi Bithai, Installation of the yogi, a youth who sits on vigil for 9 days and nights to ensure festival success; The chariot procession etc. Bastar Dussehra concludes with the Muria Durbar, an assembly of headmen and public representatives. The deities are then accorded a farewell to return to their native seats in the hamlets of the district.

They build a chariot each year for Maa Danteswari, the local deity worshipped here. And the interesting thing is that they do not buy a single piece of stick for that. All villagers pool in whatever they can afford monetary wise or effort wise and build the chariot from the scratch. Considering the tribes love for arts, Dussera at Bastar must be one awesome event! Too bad that I had to go in summer. But if any of you readers are planning a trip to this land of plenty, be sure to make your reservations in October to witness the natural and cultural glory at its highpoint.

And since a picture speaks a thousand words, I present to you a photo essay. And don’t forget to leave a comment and let me know what you liked! :)





And with this, I successfully finished publishing my Chhattisgarh Chronicles (granted I have visited only one District but still! :D ) Also I am off on an 8 day trek in the greater Himalayas. More about it when I return.

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  1. Lovely pics.... so colorful n prettty,... :)

  2. wonderful, wonderful photographs. what camera do you use?

  3. Beautiful and lovely shots !! Art work is simply amazing !!!Unseen Rajasthan

  4. woah neelima! am in love with the way you have captured the stills from their life. hope their tradition, love and efforts for these crafts and arts are preserved. thanks again for the treat :)

    after seeing all the images from you, wish i was in india now. will be soon...GRrrr

  5. wow. more please. thank you for bringing alive the heart of India

  6. Hi Neelima!
    What a fabulous post! Awesome!! Every picture a work of Art!!

    Blogtrotter, not so interesting, is visiting Old Town Antalya in Turkey. Enjoy and have a glorious weekend!

  7. What a fabulous post! I just love reading your blogs... you have such amazing wanderlust and indulge it too! I envy you... !!! There, there, I rhymed it... ! :)

    I love Chattisgarh handicrafts... and make it a point to attend as many as possible whenever there is one in B'lore...

    All my 'Dokra' collection is from WB... yet to find one from Chattisgarh, though. The best thing about 'dokra'... is that, no two pieces are alike. Each one is unique... and if one has a 'dokra'... he/she should be the 'proud' owner of it, knowing that no one else will ever have a similar piece... !!!

    The pics are wonderful... no wonder they say, "a picture speaks a thousand words" :D

    The craftsmen also make beautiful things/products out of bamboo, wood, skin of pumpkin, gourd, etc. They have something called as 'whistling flute' as well... I'm looking for it!

    Keep going... and Shubho Bijoya!

  8. First of all.. i was out of station for a while and hence the delay in replying!

    @ aarti - Thank you.. :) it was all even more colorful there..

    @ slash\\ - Welcome to my blog and Thank you so much.. :) I have an ultra zoom series Sony Cybershot DSC-H10 camera. Do keep visiting.

    @ Unseen Rajasthan - Yes, artwork is indeed very colorful and beautiful. Thanks for stopping by. :)

    @ Joshi Daniel - Thanks.. :)

  9. @ rocksea - even i hope for the same. the traditions and beauty are unparalleled. Glad you enjoyed my post..and do come back soon :)

    @ SloganMurugan - I hope to discover more about the crafts and cultures in India. Thanks for stopping by! :)

  10. @ GMG - Thank you.. :)

    @ Roshmi - Thank you so much! I live to travel as of now. don't know when my muse might change.. although i think it is going to stay for a while..:D
    Whistling flute? interesting. I haven't heard of it. I remember you telling me about a workshop on Chhattisgarh crafts here in Bangalore. Seems this dokra craft is very famous with NIFT students and overseas. Should be fun to attend one.

  11. I loved the pictures..specially the door handles are very scary.....for sure i am gonna hurt myself if i use them...

    where is this place bastar??? i don have any idea about them.

    Keep posting

  12. @ Mahesh - Glad you liked the post! :) Bastar is a district in Chhattisgarh state of India. This is actually part of a series of posts on my Chhattisgarh travels. Will post a consolidated post soon.. :D


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