What is Sohrai?

Sohrai paintings are essentially folk art that is practiced mostly in the villages of Jharkhand’s Hazaribagh area. On the Sohrai festival, which usually falls 1 day after Diwali, ladies of the family generally paint their walls that are made of mud. After the harvesting of rice, the Harvest Festival is held. The festivities last a few days. On Amavasya, the event is held.

The festival  honours cattle, particularly bullocks, goats, sheep, and buffalos. Earthen lamps are set on dwellings, cattle sheds, kitchens, and gardens during the day. They give thanks to their gods, ancestors and everything that helped them get to harvesting time.

 Sohrai is considered to have come from a paleolithic phrase that meant (to push with a stick.)This could be referring to pushing cattle The most robust celebration is visible in Bhelwara village. The rebuilding of mud homes begins a month early in the Sohrai. Roof tiles are usually replaced or repositioned, and walls are replastered.

The paintings depict a matriarchal tradition where mothers teach daughters to paint, one key topic is the mother-child bond. Matriarchy plays an important role in the Sohrai painting style. As earlier said, these artworks are handed down from mothers to daughters and represent matriarchy. In artworks, maternal animals and birds are commonly depicted. Peachicks are usually portrayed alongside peachicks, while hens and chickens are usually painted together.

Natural earthy colors were foraged from the wild or obtained locally from traders; the chewed stick is being used as a brush. While cloth rags are applied base coat Resemblance has been seen in rock art found at Isco caves with drawings painted on walls by local people’s dwellings. A resemblance has been seen between the themes of Isco cave rock paintings and the artwork on the outside of local people’s homes.

 Sohrai paintings are charming and can be traced back to the villages situated in Jharkhand’s Hazaribagh area. During the vacation period of Sohrai, which falls only a day after the Hindu festival of Diwali, ladies in this area used to decorate the mud walls of their houses. The most popular themes in Sohrai artworks include depictions of nature, Indus Valley symbolism, and abstractions with no precise meaning. Among some other things, Bhelwara town is renowned for its Indus Valley themes, Saheda town for its creature art, and Isco town for its lotuses and plants images.

Experts have highlighted that Sohrai images show a matriarchal culture in which art is passed on from generation from moms to daughters as a genetic legacy. One key topic they often talk about is mother-child relationships while using natural earth colors like red, black yellow and white mixed with chewing twigs for brushes and cloth rags for base coat application.

 It has also been noticed by some scholars who have seen similarities between rock arts found in Isco caves and those painted on local people’s dwellings; one resemblance being motifs used by both cultures are very similar despite living thousands of miles apart geographically or even culturally.


Process for making Sohrai Art

Sohrai paintings are best known for their usage of natural earth ochres and chewing twigs from the Sal tree as paintbrushes. Use a cotton rag to create an empty background. Red ochre, yellow ochre, white clay and coal can be employed in Sohrai paintings with different effects depending on the type of pigment that is used.

 The process of painting a Sohrai picture. The colors used in this type of artwork are exciting, as the history behind them is too. Earth ochres from around the area are what is traditionally used for these paintings and they’re readily available here. You can use twigs from Sal trees to create brushes for your painting with cotton rags being used as a background material instead of paintbrushes (which are difficult to find). These four colors can be employed: red or yellow ochre which you can either purchase locally or gather from hillsides and rivers nearby; manganese found near coal mines, if not then coal must be ground into powder form; white clay extracted within limestone mines- extracting it quite dangerous though.

The artworks are made entirely of natural colors combined in mud Kali Matti, Lal Matti, Pila Matti, and Duddhi matt. People apply a coating of white mud on the wall and paint on it with their fingers, cracked combs, or chewed Saal wooden tooth-sticks whereas the white layer remains wet. Fabric swabs daubed in various earth shades are also used to paint the images.

The crimson line should be drawn first in Sohrai art because it symbolizes the ancestors’ blood, fertility, and reproduction. The next row is black, which represents an endless dead stone as well as God Shiva’s symbol. The traditional ideals of security, loyalty, and chastity are represented by the following all-encompassing outer borders. The white is colored with last year’s rice, which has been mashed into gruel with milk.

There are 2 main challenges to this art form’s preservation in its native environment. One is (development) which involves the replacement of mud huts with modern concrete dwellings, and the secondly is village displacement owing to development. Demand stimulation seems to be the only way to secure the continuation of this beautiful and important cultural tradition. Individuals, organizations, institutions, and governments must all contribute to this. These paintings recently received Geographical Indication, which may improve the plight of the artists who have suffered due to loss of business.

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