Folk Art

Sohrai Tribal Paintings of India

Do you remember the last folk art we visited from the east of India? Yes, you are right, it was the Madhubani paintings. Today we visit Sohrai paintings.

Sohrai Painting

Sohrai is a festival celebrated by the Santhals who live in Indian states of Jharkhand, Bihar and West Bengal. This festival usually takes place in the month October or November for three days after Diwali. The Santhals worship for their cattle and for a good harvest. Khovar art, on the other hand, is painted by the Santhals for occasions like marriages. These paintings done on the walls are erased once the festival is over.

Like Warli paintings, these paintings are done on the mud walls of their huts. Sohrai is said to have been practised since 10,000-4,000 BC. It was earlier done on caves but then shifted to houses on the mud walls. So this art resembles rock art. The people coat their walls with white mud and while it is still wet, they draw with fingertips or with chewed tooth sticks and swabs.

How to paint Sohrai Paintings?

Sohrai tribal painting is sometimes painted with one colour and sometimes with multiple colours. But the colours are all natural dyes.  Brown, yellow ochre, red, black and other earthy colours are used to paint. Now one can see these painted on Government buildings and railway stations as a step to promote this form of art but the colours used here are synthetic.

The designs in Sohrai folk art range from flowers and fruits to various other nature-inspired designs. The animals are quite big and prominent and the leaves and flowers fill the rest of the drawing space. The personal experience of the artist and his interaction with nature is the biggest influence on this art.

The patterns are simple. There are hardly any geometrical shape in them and mostly curves and rounds which make it look natural. The thick black outlines alternating with colours make the paintings bright and beautiful.

Sohrai painting art project

Take a watercolour paper and black paint and slowly draw animals and birds in free hand. Do not worry too much about the shapes. Fill the remaining area with leaves and flowers. Any large area can be sub-divided with hatch lines or curves. Take earthy colours like brown, orange, yellow and green and fill the patterns.

By painting Sohrai folk art, you will not only learn to draw things in nature spontaneously but also will learn to make your painting decorative by adding earthy colours.

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