Saura Art

The Sauras are probably one of the most primitive tribes of Orissa, but also one of the most dynamic and colourful. Like many tribal cultures all over the world, the art of the Sauras draws inspiration from their belief that the world is peopled by a great company of Gods, as well as spirits of nature and their ancestors. It is a means of worship and invocation. These paintings are created on the walls of their houses by someone or the village shaman who is possessed by spirits and paints under the diktats of the spirits. After washing the wall with fresh red earth and water to provide a good background, the painter uses a twig as a brush and pigments made from rice, ash, chalk or lime. The general format of the work is the form of a house in a rectangular or square space. After the human and animal figures, objects etc. have been filled in, the intermediary proceeds to add elements with comments like ‘you have not given me enough attendants’ or ‘where is my comb?’ However, in recent times, with advent of overall development, and interaction of Sauras with other communities, their icons are fast losing significance and their practices slowly being discontinued. It is only in the isolated village of the langia Sauras of the hills that one finds the Ittalams (paintings) in their true sacred and spiritual context.