An Interior World

Art history/ Historiography, Crafts, Handlooms, Art

An Interior World: Bhitti Chitra-Clay relief work of Chhattisgarh

Sethi, Dr. Ritu

The harvest festival of Chherta held in the lunar month of Pus that falls in endDecember is celebrated on the night of the full-moon. In Chhattisgarh women of the Rajwar agriculturalist community celebrate the event through creating Bhitti Chitras – the sculpted and painted clay relief figures. Decorating their homes for these festivities with reliefs of gods and goddesses, birds, animals, plants, trees and human forms the figures created vibrantly crowd their homes to bring the interiors and exteriors to life.  Vividly painted in shades of orange, red, blue, green, yellow with the features delineated in black the reliefs are set against a stark contrasting white clay surface. From the walls of their homes, on storage spaces, doors, alcoves and additionally free standing bamboo screen structures these 3D images created   are renewed each year with new figures added on. Living in mud homes the women apply a lipai/coating of wet clay mixed with cow dung on the floors and walls that is then covered with white Multani Mitti/ Fullers Earth. This forms the base of the work. While a variety of surfaces are covered, lattice bamboo fretwork structures are also constructed to form standalone artworks that are decorated with figures. The images are moulded into shape inspired by the makers’ imagination. Rice husk waste forms the base that is coated and shaped with clay before painting. The figures of birds and animals with their young often have very human expressions further adding to the spontaneity of the art created. Given the...
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