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India’s tribal artists produce face masks to fight coronavirus

A Kutchi craftswoman working on a face mask at Gujarat
Image courtesy: ©Khamir

India has over 200 million artisans from various states who produce a variety of folk and tribal arts and crafts. Since India’s lockdown against the COVID–19 pandemic folk organisations like the Kala Chaupal Trust have worked closely with tribal artisans whose craft businesses and microeconomics have been devastated due to the pandemic.

“The #culturemasks project was born from the idea of create a product under the current climate that is both necessary and culturally relevant”, says Leenika Jacob who spearheads Kala Chaupal that works in the space of arts, culture, rural economies and environmental sustainability in New Delhi.

Produced by weavers, painters and tribal textile craftspeople showcasing the art of their region and make for colourful face masks. Take a look at a few of the masks.

Also Read: Untouched by the contemporary world – Tribes of India

Also Read: Heritage arts & crafts of India

Dongria Kondh

These handmade face masks are by the Dongria Kondh tribal artists who reside in the Niyamgiri forested hill range in Odisha, eastern India. They are known for their colourful jewellery traditions, unique hair styles and distinct garments.

Lanjia Soara

The Soara are an aboriginal people found in southern Odisha and northern parts of neighbouring state Andhra Pradesh, both in eastern India. The tribespeople are marked by their distinct face tattoos and jewellery. The Soara painting is called Idithal and has figures of their tribal deities and gods.

Nuapatna

Image courtesy: ©Kala our Katha, Odisha/ Jaipur Kala Chaupal

Nuapatna in the eastern part of Odisha, near Cuttack has vibrant textile traditions. The villages have distinct textile weaving traditions called Khandua and Ikat.

Chau

Image courtesy: ©Biponi, Jharkhand

Chau is a dance and street performance tradition in the Indian states of West Bengal and Odisha. These colourful papier-mache masks are worn by dancers who perform scenes from the Hindu epics.

Pattachitra

Image courtesy: ©Sai Kiran, Cheriyal Artist/ Jaipur Kala Chaupal

The pattachitra is a unique hand painting tradition on scrolls and cloth by artists in Odisha and Bengal. These colourful face masks showcase the distinct styles of this colourful art.

Mata Ni pachedi

Image courtesy: ©Khamir

A Vaghari craftsman paints facemasks in Mata ni pachedi style also called a pen-craft of Gujarat.