Mandana art: A magical mystery

Updated: Jul 16

Mandana art on a plate

Mandana paintings are one of India's oldest forms of tribal art that has survived over the centuries.

The Meenas, one of the oldest tribal communities, perform it in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.

This art is done on the walls and floors of the house, both inside and outside, to ward off evil and welcome the blessings of the gods.

This painting is mostly done by women in the Meena community because it is traditionally their social role to take care of the house and family.

This art form is not taught in a formal setting and is not recognized as a discipline.

Girls, on the other hand, learn this art by observing and imitating their mothers.

new Mandana design on cloth

Mandana refers to 'drawing' in the sense of Chitra Mandana or drawing a picture in the local language. Mandana comes from the term Mandan, which means "decoration and beauty."

Historically, they have been used as ornaments for exceptional or celebratory events by ladies of the Meena group for generations.

These occasions comprised collective religious service, festivals and fasts, and, finally, fortunate days in the community's existence, such as birth or marriage.

new Mandana design on cloth

As they were created for spiritual purposes, the images generally depicted the festival's primary god.

This serves two functions at the same time:

a) the deity of the festival is summoned through the paintings

b) the images were also a symbolic depiction of the god or goddess.

These artworks' themes are influenced by beliefs about auspiciousness and good omens.

Shubh Manglik is the technical word for such patterns.

Many of the other patterns shown in the Mandana paintings are evocative of the designs of Vedic yagna altars, Vastu purasha mandalas, and ancient temple floor layouts.

A lot of patterns of Mandana paintings are directly influenced by architectural elements as well as geometry.

Mandana design on elephant on cloth

The ideal Mandana must be drawn and painted in a specific manner.

First, the walls or floors are plastered with clay, coupled with a combination of cow dung and water.

The images are drawn on the wall or floor with simple materials such as a date twig brush, a clump of hair, and cotton.

Mandana design on ground with natural dyes

The motifs are then colored once they have been created.

The color scheme of these paintings is simple, consisting of white and red, and was chosen precisely because it is easily available in the community's natural surroundings.

The white paint, known as khadiya, is made of chalk, while the red paint, known as geru, is made of brick.