Tribal Art & Culture of Madhya Pradesh & Rajasthan
(Bhil & Gond Paintings)

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GARIBA SINGH TEKAM

GOND ARTIST of MADHYA PRADESH

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Gariba Singh Tekam, the youngest brother of Narmada Singh Tekam and Kala Bai, was inspired by Jangarh Singh Shyam to take up painting as a profession. Jangarh encouraged him to continue painting, marvelling at his forms and colours. This was only silver lining in the hardship of Gariba’s life during those early days.

Gariba and his wife Prem Bai work at IGRMS, in the Museum of Mankind. They look after the gallery where Gariba’s painting of the seven Gond brothers, the youngest of whom became a Pardhan, is displayed. Since Gariba himself is from the Pardhan community, the Gond priests, he has always been fascinated by the story. The story goes that once a black chicken inauspiciously refused to partake of an offering of freshly harvested grain. So the seven Gond brothers approached Badadev, sitting beneath the Saja tree. The great god advised them to create a musical instrument called a bana, that their youngest brother should play to entice the black chicken to peck at the grain. And that is how the youngest brother became the priest of the Gond Community. He came to be known as Pardhan, one who would be given dhan, paddy, by his brothers. 

Gariba Tekam likes painting figures from the Gond pantheon. Badadev and the Saja tree are his favourite themes. He has also painted Ghurri Dev, sentinel of the forest. Gariba recalls how in his childhood he would pray to Ghurri Dev and make offerings of wood or stone to the god before entering the forest to collect firewood. 

 

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