The Bastars people
The Bastar is a district of South India in the state of Chattisgarh, it was an independent kingdom from the 14th century until its integration into India in 1948.
The tribal population accounts for 70% of the population of Bastar district: the main tribes are the Gonds - the Abhuj Maria and the Bhatras. Most of them have kept their traditions (cooking, clothing, festivals...) and their animist religion.
The tribes still live mainly from agriculture and forest resources (hunting, medicinal plants, wood...).
Some tribes have devoted themselves to brass statuary art for more than 4000 years. This art, also found in the states of Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, West Bengal, Bihar... is called Dokra.
This traditional and artisanal art has not changed for millennia (more than 4000 years) and the technique used is still that of lost wax: a rough model in clay is made and then covered with wax by the artist who will give it its final shape with its details. The whole is again covered with a clay mixture and then heated in an open hearth where a copper alloy is cast. See Blog.
The objects produced by the Dokra artists can be of usual nature: dish, candlestick... musical instruments (brass), or artistic such as jewelry, animals: horses, elephants, turtles..., or statues of men and women representing scenes of daily life and Hindu deities adopted by the tribes: Ganesh, Lakshmi, ...
Standing with her body slightly bent to the right, this Bastar woman is dressed in her festive attributes for this ceremony where dance plays a major role. The left leg is slightly raised, marking the dance step, while the right arm rests on a stick.
Several beautiful headbands of coins and shells form a festive hairstyle on her forehead and her hair, pulled back, ends in a bun on the left, typical of Bastar Indian tribal women. A feathered headdress enhances the ensemble and gives her a queen's bearing which the sceptre-shaped staff confirms.
Jewels express wealth, this woman wears many necklaces (as well as earrings, bracelets and leg rings) that express her social position and reinforce her beauty.
The loincloth is also richly ornamented with multiple embroideries.
The craftsman has perfectly highlighted the strong presence of this woman in this statue. She oscillates between grace and power, movement and stability.