If only stick figures could talk!

CHENNAI-The day to day life of the Kurumba, the tribe from The Nilgiris, is on paper in a combination of seven basic natural colours. And who other than the tribal people themselves can do that best?

Balasubramani and Krishnan, along with a group of their community people, have produced indigenous Kurumba art that is exhibited at the Vennirul Art Gallery, CP Art Centre in the city. Titled ‘Kurumba tribes of The Nilgiris’, each exhibit depicts the every day life of the tribe.

Small stick figures and a large tree common to all of their work, each of their paintings on handmade paper show them busy with various activities right from honey collection, worshipping their god in a mountain, wedding rituals, dancing, ploughing the ground and much more.

“The bride and the groom will only walk on a cotton cloth laid on the ground. The village members set up the pachai pandal with the different types of leaves available and we have our seer where we keep money ranging from Rs 10 to Rs 100,” explained Balasubramani as he showed a painting depicting the wedding ceremony. The artists explained how they get the natural colours from trees and leaves specific to their area.

Krishna said that though they learnt the basics of painting a few years ago, most of what they have shown on paper was already depicted on rocks 2,000 years ago. 

“We have four different places in The Nilgiris where there are rock paintings. I learnt the art from my grandfather and we all started of by painting on the walls of our houses during occasions like a wedding. Guests would see them and understand our custom,” he explained.

While most of the exhibits are paintings with natural colours, there are water colour paintings too. Paintings are available between Rs 400 and Rs 900. There are also bookmarks, bags and greeting cards with the tribal art at the exhibition.

The exhibition, ‘Kurumba tribes of The Nilgiris’, is on at the Vennirul Art Gallery, CP Art Centre, Alwarpet, till September 21 from 10 am to 7 pm.

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Author: madhubaganiar

Madhubaganiar loves to write on social issues especially for downtrodden segment of Indian society.

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