Sauras are among the most ancient of tribal community in India and they have been widely mentioned in most revered Hindu epics like 'Ramayana' and 'Mahabharata'. This community is found in the southern Odisha state districts of Rayagada, Ganjam, Gajapati, and Koraput. Sauras have used the power of simple forms and figurines to create an art form that is simple, earthy, and captivating.
Image Courtesy: Tribes India
Saura tribal painting is traditionally wall mural paintings that depict symbols and motifs, often of ritualistic importance. In modern times, these wall murals have found various other mediums like textiles, canvas, paper, and ceramics. However, the essence and treatment of the art has remained the same.
It may come as a surprise, but Saura tribe doesn't have a script of its own so in a way, their art is also an ingenious record of their rich cultural heritage.
When we first started on a journey to connect with communities practicing this art, the first question we had was 'is this similar to 'Warli'? Warli is another art form practiced in Maharashtra and has found voice and depiction in the modern design space. However, Saura tribal art is distinct from Warli in many aspects.
The Saura figures are less angular than the Warli ones, where the human body is depicted by two sharp triangles conjoined at the apex. The Saura forms are also larger and more elongated than the ones seen in Warli art, with no physical differentiations between male and female shapes. Another distinct characteristic of Saura art is the ‘fishnet’ approach with which all the artworks are made. Every Saura artwork begins with a carefully drawn border and then the patterns close in on the centre to form the intricate compositions.
Right: Warli and Left: Saura
Conventionally, the wall murals were prepared from red or yellow ochre earth which was then painted over using brushes fashioned from tender bamboo shoots. Natural dyes and chromes derived from ground white stone, hued earth, and vermillion and mixtures of tamarind seed, flower and leaf extracts were widely used. In modern times, as modernization came in, the artists from these communities have started using acrylic paints as a medium.
Abhinehkrafts, teamed up with one such artist Madhusudan and his family (that includes women of the household) to create small samples of this art form. We have fused this ancient tribal art with our hand-stitched organic cotton totes to create a modern, functional depiction of this ancient craft.
Our organic cotton totes are made by women from marginal communities in Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. The result is an unprecedented combination of handmade love created in three different states of India. Saura is not just an art. It is a voice, it is a reflection, and it is a sheer beauty of ancient wisdom and we plan to make this accessible to everyone around the world and in the process, create a medium of recognition for this talented community.
Organic Cotton Tote Bag with Saura Tribal Art by Abhinehkrafts