Ankik Gudhna/Tattoos of Madhya Pradesh

Arts, Painting, Endangered Crafts, Tribal Crafts

Ankik Gudhna/Tattoos of Madhya Pradesh

Tattooing is done all over the body by the tribal’s of Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh who tattoo different motifs. There are various rules pertaining to tattooing — for instance, tattooing is forbidden on the hips and the waist. Tattoo motifs also reflect tribal occupation and tools; there are many motifs related to agriculture and cattle-breeding. The scene of Sita Rasoi, the Kitchen of Sita, from the epic Ramayana is a popular tattoo among many tribal groups. The scorpion, honey-bee, hen, horse, and mare are the motifs of fertility.

The tattooing starts at the age of seven, is done at puberty, and then just before marriage (for a girl). Tattooing is done mainly by the women. The tattooing ink is prepared by mixing soot with bhilava (ipmoea digitais) oil. The motifs are first drawn out on the body and then etched on to the skin by pricking with a needle and ink. The tribal’s prepare the ink by burning the skin of snakes and mixing it in niger seed oil. These tattoo designs are now duplicated on paper.


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