Mandana Paintings - binding together generations of women in Rajasthan -

Mandana Paintings - binding together generations of women in Rajasthan

~ Written By Khushi Daryani


Mandana Paintings, one of the oldest forms of tribal art of India is predominantly done by the Meena community in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. One of the incredible feats of Mandana art is that it isn’t taught through mere formal training but passed along as girls learn it by observing and emulating their mothers. In a way, it is seen as a skill that has connected women over generations.  These paintings are often seen on walls and floors of rural mud houses, keeping the place ornamental. The theme differs from animals such as peacocks and elephants to wells and water bodies. Even without colour, it portrays a distinctive and diverse design that binds several generations together.

Some believe that making these on the entrance of homes while serving its decorative attribute, also protects the home from evil. It has religious and auspicious significance as seen on major Indian festivals when it embellishes houses just like Rangoli art. It wards off wicked energies while manifesting divinity. There is also aesthetic appeal to the form as witnessed by modern designers who try to sustain it through adapting it in clothes, bags and other items. You might see it embroidered on a handbag without knowing the history about the artists who have revolutionized and mastered it through time.

Pagalya , footmark of the goddess

(Painting: Pagalya/ Footmark -Adorning the verandah of the house, it welcomes the goddess to bless all the family members of the house. In some more complex Pagalya designs, there is a lot of diverse depictions of flowers, different triangles signifying fire, indicating deities like Rama or Sita or goddess Lakshmi.पगल्या का अर्थ शाब्दिक रूप से " फुटमार्क " है। घर के बाहर बरामदा पर और मुख्य मंडाना के आसपास, परिवार के सदस्यों को आशीर्वाद देने के लिए वे घर में देवी का स्वागत करते हैं।  अन्य paglya शिखर सम्मेलन से जुड़े दो समबाहु त्रिकोण की एक जोड़ी दिखाते हैं। दो विपरीत त्रिकोणों में से एक छोटे आकार का है, पीछे के पैर और दूसरे को प्रदर्शित करने के लिए, व्यापक आधार के साथ और पांच बिंदुओं के साथ चिह्नित किया जाता है, जो पहले पैर और पैर की उंगलियों का प्रतीक होता है दूसरी ओर, अधिक विस्तृत पगल्या में , विविध भौतिक और प्राकृतिक चित्रण फूल, जलतरंग रेखा, विविध त्रिभुज अग्नि के द्योतक शामिल हैं, जो देवता रूप में राम या सीता या मां लक्ष्मी को इंगित करते हैं। इसे पगल्या कहते हैं।. You can find many other beautiful mandana paintings by Vidya Soni here)

However, much like most folk art, Mandana paintings have been vanishing due to lack of preservation. One established artist who keeps the art form alive is Vidya Soni, an artist from Bhilwara, Rajasthan who has been practicing this art since the age of 11.  She recently made a hauntingly beautiful painting of a pregnant elephant after hearing the news of one being brutally killed in Kerala. It depicts an elephant and a baby elephant in its womb as she tries to capture the pain and anguish in her art piece. Hence, Mandana has ornamental characteristics but work is often inspired by real life events that deeply move the artist as well.


Vidya Devi Soni, Mandana Artist (Photo Source: Artist)
Elephant painting by Vidya devi manadana artist
(Photo Source: Artist)


Mandana paintings that have adorned mud houses since years, now stand threatened to extinction as they are replaced by glass houses and cemented floors. One can only hope they stand the test of time as the art is kept alive through those who practice it and others who understand its significance. We are organizing one such workshop to teach the art form and hope you can join us from your laptop screens on 11th December to keep Mandana paintings flourishing and evergreen.


A Note from the Artist about Mandana Paintings (translated from Hindi)

Traditional Mandana folk paintings are culturally a big part of India, from small mud houses to grand palaces. These bring peace to the cultivators and joy on festivals. They also have religious importance as the folk art of Rajasthan. They can be found in Mewar, Hadauti, Marwara and Merwara districts of Rajasthan and are known by different names such as Satiya in Gujarat, Kolam in South India, Rangoli in Maharashtra and Purana in Uttar Pradesh. However, the Mandanas of Rajasthan are the most specialised from all these places. It is an art famously made by women. Paintings can be classified on the basis of the meaning and occasion attached to them as well as on the basis of different shapes and sizes. The Chauka is a square shape that is the harbinger of prosperity while triangles, circles and swastikas are made on almost every festival. Some traditional motifs of Mandanas include geometric and floral motifs. Flower motifs are associated with religious belief and even magic while geometric ones are associated with tantric beliefs. Some of these were also found during the Harappan Civilisation. The forms of some geometric figures are associated with a goddess or deity, such as the Shaktakon which is made by joining two triangles, marking the goddess Lakshmi. This shape is very famous and made especially during harvest time. Apart from these, many shapes are centred around a main figure based on social and religious tradition, which depicts the age-old customs and the vision of the women who make them.  This folk art was popular in the reign of the kings. However in the modern age, the government's indifference and peope's lack of knowledge surrounding history, Mandana paintings stand to be lost in a sea of ignorance . 




  • Nidhi Suhag: August 07, 2021
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    I want to join the Mandana workshop as I am doing research on this topic. Also, can you pls provide me the contact no. of the artist as I need to know much more about the craft.
    I have a query too. Do you provide certificates for attending all theses workshops?

  • Kajal shah: June 18, 2021
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    Thanks for sharing so much information about this wonderful art. Keep posting. We would love you know such unique and dying arts of our country.

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