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PAINTINGS - Khovar and Sohrai Art
Tribal Village Mural Painting Tradition

* 20 Sep 2021
Khovar & Sohrai Art

Khovar & Sohrai Art, the village wall paintings of Hazaribagh region in Jharkhand involves common design patterns which are both natural and symbolic and linked with the rock art. The village mural painting tradition is a matriarchal one. The art is made by married women (Devi) during the marriage and harvest seasons. Young girls learn the art from their mothers and aunts. The marriage art is called Khovar after the Bridal room and bridegroom, and Sohrai is the other kind of village painting done during the winter harvest in which the paintings are painted using cloth swabs or chewed twigs of the local Saal forest tree used for brushing their teeth by the villagers.

The Traditional mural painting tradition is done throughout Hazaribagh district. However, the Khovar art is done exclusively in Jorakath, and Kharati village in Barkagaon block in south-west Hazaribagh, While Sohrai art is done in Bhelwara village in Bishungarh block in east Hazaribagh. Stylistically, the women artists in the hills paint animals and birds, While those in the valley paint plants, aquatic life, and birds, etc..

The art may be divided into as many as one dozen stylistic groups, but there are two major art forms- Khovar or the Comb-Cut art done during the marriage season, a type of sagraffito art using Reversed Slip pottery technique, in which dry black slip is covered with wet white slip and then designs are cut with fine combs revealing the under-coat in unique relief designs of black on white.   Sohrai is the painted art done during the harvest season in which the paintings are made on earth treated wall with the natural pigments of red, white, and black ochre using brushes. Only water is used as a dilutant. This art tradition known as Khovar (done for marriage) and Sohrai (done for harvest) art is painted exclusively by the Adivasi tribal women folk, who now bring the mural tradition to high quality art paper, using  natural earth and oxide pigments like earth ochres locally known as - Kali maati,Charak maati, Dudhi maati Lal maati, Pila maati.