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Thursday, March 10, 2011

Saora/Saura Painting, Orissa

Saura paintings are traditionally painted on the walls of the houses to mark special events such as birth of a child, a good harvest, marriage etc. The sacred “idital” paintings (a part of Saura art) were always painted in the darkest rooms of the house, and were used by the tribal people to contact and appease the dead ancestors of the tribe.


The Saura tribes of Orissa have a glorious past. The Saura tribe i.e. Sauras or Savaras have been mentioned in Indian epics Ramayana and Mahabharata. Savari's devotion to Rama in Ramayana is part of the folk lore of India. In Mahabharata, Jara Savara pierces an arrow to Krisna and kills him.

The people of the Saura tribe traditionally drew ritualistic pictographs on the inside walls of their mud houses called 'italons'. These pictographs were made for various reasons – to avoid disease, preserve crops, honor the dead of the tribe, and promote fertility.

In recent times, the Saura artists have started using hand-made paper and cloth as the medium for their paintings.


The Saura tribe is one of the oldest known communities in India. They live mainly in the hills of Rayagada district of Orissa, and have become famous for the rich variety of paintings made on the inner walls of their houses. These tribal people depend on farming for subsistence, and are inclined towards depicting the importance of land through their paintings. The tribe is sheltered from urban culture and lifestyle since its people are surrounded by the hills and have limited public access to their settlements.

Process, Talent & Skills needed

The Sauras paint on the inside of the walls which is due to their religious belief. Natural colors are used mainly black and white (made from soot and rice respectively) and a bamboo brush is used to paint.

The artist needs excellent skills to make these paintings since the work on these paintings is fairly elaborate. Saora paintings are geometric in style, but with a fishing net-like approach within larger characters. These are different from the Warli tribe paintings where the insides of characters do not have the Saura net-like approach. The Warli figures are also more linear compared with the Saura figures.

Materials used, durability

For wall paintings, a brush is made from a bamboo split, black colour is collected from soot generated out of lamps, sun-dried rice is crushed to from white powder, and all these are mixed in water, and juice from roots and herbs to make a paste. The colour that is finally obtained is black and white.

In recent times, artists have also started painting on paper, and on 'American' card boards, and use acrylic colors to paint.


These are similar to the Warli paintings and stick figures are found in this art form as well. However, while Warli painting is fluid and primitive in style, the Saura craftspersons exert more restraint and the style is more colorful. This artform reflects everyday life of the tribal people: agrarian and hunting activities as well as depiction of music and dance during the festivals.

1 comment:

  1. Sir did you have a piece of this Saura painting images or greeting card or post card for sharing them in my Heritage of India blog.

    Sir these are some other paintings etc. which i shared in my blog.

    Sir i request you please look into my blog and share your valuable comments.

    Sir if you have a piece of Saura painting then i request you please send them to me for sharing them in my blog.