'Godna' (tattoos), a popular form of art among tribals, is being experimented beyond its traditional usage by Chhattisgarh women, who are trying to give this primitive artistry a modern twist by using it on textiles.
The tribal women are improvising on the art form by painting 'Godna' on fabrics, silk, canvas, wall and doors and various other means, instead of just body painting. Safiyano Pawle (45), who led the experiment for reviving the art form, says 'Godna' is fighting for its survival because of fall in popularity and emergence of tattoo fashion in urban areas.
"About 6-7 years back, tourists, who used to visit Mainpat and other places in Sarguja district, saw our artistic skills and suggested us to try it on textiles. Since then we are practising this on various other medium," Pawle said. "Majority of tribal woman have tattoos called Godna, on their bodies. Tribal men also use Godna, believing that it is the only ornament which goes with them after death also. The purpose is not only to earn livelihood by practising it on different medium, but we also wish to preserve the most prominent adaptation of an earlier art form," she said.
Safiyano, the native of Jamgala village in Lakhanpur block of Sarguja district which lies over 350 kms away from state capital Raipur, learnt 'Godna' art form from her ancestors and has been professionally practising it along with her husband Amarsai Pawle for last 25 years.
Even their three children, including two daughters, have taken up this art form professionally. Largely dependent on agriculture for earning their livelihood, Safiyano feels it is hard to convince women of Jamgala to work in the area of expansion of tattoo art. "Earlier, they were using Godna paintings to adorn their bodies and decorate huts. Sometimes they even go to other villages during local fairs to earn livelihood but they never thought of using it on textiles," she said.
It is quite expensive to work on Godna art form and women in the region are not economically sound to afford the cost of designing textiles. Another reason which refrains them from fully engaging in this activity is that they do not get sufficient money after selling these artefacts, Safiyano said.