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 the 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 also done on the mud walls of their huts. Sohrai is said to have been practiced 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 finger tips or with chewed tooth sticks and swabs.

How to paint Sohrai Paintings?

Sohrai tribal painting is sometimes painted with one color and sometimes with multiple colors. But the colors are all natural dyes.  Brown, yellow ochre, red, black and other earthy colors are used to paint them. Now one can see these painted to decorate Government buildings, railway stations but the colors 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 in between. The personal experience of the artist and his interaction with nature is the biggest influence in 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 colors make the paintings bright and beautiful.

Sohrai painting art project


Take a watercolor 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 colors 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 colors.

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