Mandana Art: The stunning art form to enhance decorations

At a glance

Mandana art is derived from the Sanskrit word “Mandan” meaning ‘to invent’. This decorative art was traditionally done on the hearths and walls of the old mud houses as a mark of the beginning of seasons such as winter, planting and harvesting seasons and before summer, apart from special and auspicious occasions like weddings, festivals and communal religious workshops. The idea behind it being the belief that madanas aid good luck and ward off evil, and hence, perfect to welcome the deities and express happiness and joy.

Mandana art is a beautiful monochromatic art (like Warli or Sanjhi art forms) with the primary base color as brick red or brown along with intricate white designs made on the base.

Mandana art design traditional art form rajasthan madhya pradesh monochromatic drawings tribal art festive art

The Flag Bearers

It is a traditional artform of the ‘Meena’ tribe from the eastern Rajasthan and is widely found in the areas of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. It is generally passed on to the daughters from their mothers by the means of observation and emulation.

Following are the major attributes of the Mandana art:

  • They employ simple geometric patterns such as squares, triangles and circles which essentially are symbolic representations of various elements.

  • They use small motifs from the surroundings, the most prominent being peacock. Other commonly used motifs include Ganesha or other deities (zoomorphs/ anthromorphs), women at work, tigers and other animals, birds and floral motifs.

  • Traditionally, women from a community work together to paint them in various public areas, leaving their individual signatures on them.

Materials used traditionally include:

  • Powdered rice, white limestone, chalk or flour- in a dry form or paste. The white chalk solution is often referred to as ‘Khadia’

khadia geru white limestone traditional mandana material chalk solution

  • Cow dung mixed with red clay (rati) along with Red ochre (sand) called ‘Geru’

powdered red ochre Geru traditional rajasthani mandana art material red clay red sand

  • Tools used generally include cotton pieces, tuft of hair or a basic brush made of date stick.

woman making mandana traditional brush tools to make tribal rajasthani art

The Process:

  • The base, either wall or ground, is prepared first by plastering it with a mixture of clay along with cow dung and little water.

Preparation of the base of mandana art plastering using cow dung clay

  • Designs are made using fingers, cloth balls or the rudimentary tools, aforementioned. Alternatively, chalks may be used.

Making of the design mandana art traditional rajasthani mandna in making khadia

  • They are then filled with the white khadiya and the red ochre, geru.

Detailing done with khadia and geru mp and rajasthan festive tribal art mandana

  • Sometimes, they are decorated using mirrors, beads, stones and colored glass.

Mandana decorated with mirrors decorative festive art from Rajasthan Madhya Pradesh (MP)

Present scenario

The traditional form of the art, which was typically practiced on the mud walls and floors is close to being extinct with the advent of the pucca (concrete) houses being constructed even in villages now as the traditional form doesn’t go well with the concrete walls. However, it is conserved in a contemporary form and being propagated to the masses through various means and is also incorporated in fabrics, dresses and other utility items. In fact, it has evolved in the present era, with the artists drawing not only the traditional motifs, but also modern designs such as tractors, motor bikes etc.

The traditional artists claim of architectural and scientific significance being associated with the Mandana art forms and that it needs to be studied.

Mandana kettle hand-painted Pulpypapaya home decor folk art

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