Hase Chitra is a form of Tribal Art, typical of the Shimoga and Karwar districts of Karnataka. Often overshadowed by its neighbouring and well-promoted Warli of Maharashtra, Hase Chitra has been quietly confined to the tribal communities and is little-known even within Karnataka.
Today, Hase Chitra is especially relevant, as it seamlessly integrates the traditional with the modern. The revival of Hase Chitra has been a focus point on the agenda of A Hundred Hands, a non-profit trust that provides a platform for lesser known artists and arts.
Like many of the Tribal Arts of the world, Hase Chitra was originally done for special occasions such as weddings, festivals and auspicious days. The overall theme is usually centred on the Celebration of Nature in different avatars.
Hase Chitra embodies the spirit of togetherness and community where all members of the community come together to decorate their spaces. A joint endeavour between adults and children, the art is owned by the community.
The medium is primarily Mud Paint made from different soils available in wide range of colours- red, brown, yellow, white and myriad shades. The subtle differences in the soil colours of various regions originally also helped to distinguish one family or clan from another.
The materials used for this art are all natural based, using natural sources such as bark of trees, wild berries, seeds, rocks, minerals, and vegetables. Kemmannu (red earth), akki hittu (rice flour), masi kenda (coal), kaare kai (a berry), guragekaai hittu (which gives yellow colour), sunna (lime stone), turmeric, milk, etc. has been used to prepare white, black, red and yellow natural colours.
Patterns and Techniques
The lines and patterns on these paintings are an infinite combination of simple geometric shapes. The triangle, the square, the circle and a straight line are the basis of every drawing. And, a simple combination of these 4 basics can offer an infinite range of symbols, ranging from the symbol of women’s empowerment (Sita Mudi) to an intricate border surrounding the celebration of new beginnings.
The subtle use of optical illusion draws the viewer in and the patterns formed are unique-often derived from the personality of the Home. All the drawings are done in free hand and within the simple imperfections, lie the very beauty of this art. Lines are drawn by strings dipped in the paint and the expert eye always wins over the expert scale.
The artist Mr. Radhakrishna Bandagadde is an accomplished artist from Sagar taluk. He has done this painting along with his PhD student, Kantiraj from Hampi University. His specialty is experimenting with the combinations and integration of Hase Chitra with Tribal Art from Mexico and Africa, using common symbols that cut across the seas and continents.
Hase Chitra’s Relevance in Today’s World
Like many folk arts in India and the rest of the world, the evolution and relevance in today’s world has been the biggest hindrance. Today, as part of the revival programme at A Hundred Hands, the core of the art is preserved but the outer whorls are evolving. Using the art of different mediums (like coffee table trunks) that can enter into a modern living room or concept walls which integrate today’s fashion with the times gone by. Today, Hase Chitra brings together many urban families wanting to connect with nature and strengthen a family bond stretched by the compulsions of modern living. Even corporates use Hase Chitra as a part of their employee motivation programmes and team building.
-Mala Dhawan, Founder Trustee – A Hundred Hands