Gond Folk Art Workshop at Firdaous Educational Institute, Baramulla
A regular practice of arts, according to research, contributes towards a healthy and holistic improvement of human life by reducing stress, improving cognitive skills, developing problem- solving capabilities, inculcating human values and so on. These psychological and social developments are especially crucial for a child’s all-round growth. JK Arts Foundation aims to introduce and integrate arts in education through the use of disruptive technologies and workshops. Moreover, the Foundation pursues an equally important purpose of creating mass awareness about India’s rich and multifarious tradition of indigenous and folk arts.
On 29 th November, 2022, JKAF organized an on-site workshop on Gond folk art at the Firdaous Educational Institute, Baramulla. Baramulla is one of the twenty districts of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir. Its administrative center, the city of Baramulla, is located 55 kilometers away from the summer capital, Srinagar. The name ‘Baramulla’ comes from the Sanskrit terms ‘Varaha’ (Boar) and ‘Mul’ (Molar) and therefore, means ‘Boar’s Molar Place.’ The town is said to have been founded c. 2306 BCE by king Bhimsina. Historically, it has been known as the gateway to Kashmir and has, therefore, been visited by figures such as the Chinese traveler Hiuen Tsang, the Mughal emperors Akbar and Jahangir, the sixth Sikh guru Hargovind Singh and the British historian Moorcroft. Home to such wonders as the Wular lake (the second largest freshwater lake in Asia), the ancient town of Parihaspora (founded in the 8 th century CE by Lalitaditya Muktipida and housing Buddhist stupas, monasteries, Vishnu temples and royal residences) and the breathtaking tourist hub called Gulmarg; Baramulla has a composite culture and is a place to behold with awe and astonishment.
The session began with JkAF Founder Geeta Vaishnavi addressing an audience of more than 150 enthusiastic students. She related a brief history of India’s many artistic traditions and explained the significance of preserving them in memory and practice as a part of celebrating our heritage. Thereafter, the students were shown through using a laptop a step-by-step video tutorial of how to create Gond artworks. Thereafter, they were provided art kits and printouts of Gond paintings and were encouraged to try to reproduce them.
Gond art is one of the few indigenous artistic traditions of India that is experiencing a revival among Indian and foreign art enthusiasts and practitioners, although the majority of the people in our country remain unfamiliar with it. It has traditionally been practiced by the Gonds who are one of the largest tribes of the Indian subcontinent, residing in states like Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Chattisgarh. The artists traditionally used natural bright colors like red, blue, yellow and orange which were made using ingredients like flowers and stones. The themes generally encompassed scenes of nature, animals, everyday tribal life, Hindu gods and goddesses (especially Ganesha) and the ‘tree of life.’ The method entails making dots on the surface area trying to determine the volume of the potential image, connecting these dots to form an outline and then filling the outline with colors to complete the image. These paintings were earlier used to decorate the surfaces of Gond homes, but now many artists are opting for exhibiting their talents on the canvas.
In the end, the session was a complete success. Students seemed excited to learn about the techniques that they could employ to recreate the images and the materials the original artists used to create the same. The teachers, too, were highly satisfied with the result of their collaboration with JKAF. The Principal of the institute, Ishrat Tanki, commented, “It was great to host JK Arts Foundation Team. I hope they keep coming back to teach children new folk art forms.”