Inspired by travels to India in 2015
The Bonda tribe of Odisha was believed to be part of the very first migration out of Africa becoming the first forest settlers in India. The Bonda tribes isolation and known aggression has preserved the traditions of their culture up until a few years ago, where rising temperatures and deforestation have begun to greatly impact the tribe.
The intricate and colourful adornments of the Bonda tribe, their beauty and legend has captivated imaginations for over a century.
This legend is explained best through Ramayana. According to this, on a day long ago, two Bonda women chanced upon Sita while she was bathing at a nearby pond in the Bonda Hills. Seeing Sita naked with her shaven head, the women sniggered. Enraged, Sita cursed the women to a life where they would remain naked and have their heads shaven. As the Bonda women begged for forgiveness, Sita gave them a scrap of cloth she tore off her sari. The Bonda women still honour this traditional look today. The women hide their nudity with ornaments of intricately looped beads, their heads remain shaved, brass earrings weigh their ears and the heavy metal rings that cover their necks and arms are thought to protect the women while they hunt and forage.
The Bonda tribe symbolises a growing trend among indigenous communities- a breakdown of cultural and traditional self sufficient livelihood models. The only way to strengthen indigenous communities is to protect and preserve their cultural and livelihood identities. Through paint I aim to help preserve these cultures and communities in their full beauty and tradition, to raise awareness and document the full beauty of our earth.
Acrylic on Panel