Baiga: The Tattooing Ladies
It was just a couple of years back ( prior to the inception of covid-19 pandemic), I had gone for a visit to Bhoramdeo temple in Chhattisgarh . There I came to know about a tribe called ” Baiga”( this tribal community has been declared as a Primarily Vulnerable Tribal Group by Government of India) and I found sometime convenient to pay a visit to the nearby weekly tribal market at chilpi there. I learnt few of the very interesting aspects of the Baiga tribe. This ethnic group is found concentrated in different pockets of central India.
There lies a large concentration ( around 90,000) of Baiga people ( better known as hill dwellers ) in Mandla and Balaghat Regions of Madhya Pradesh, stretching out to Bilaspur of Chhattisgarh and Garwa Locale of Jharkhand. A decent pocket of Baiga tribal people lies close to the Mukki entryway of Kanha Tiger Reserve . Aside from wearing Tattoos and being sorcerers , their life is immovably interlaced with gathering of forest produces. They live in hill locks with complete dependence on forests and know where to find which forest produce ( like veneer, vegetables, mushroom, organic products, honey and therapeutic plants in timberlands). However ,they are no trackers of wild creatures.
The Baiga tribe work on shifting cultivation in the forest. They say they never plough the Earth, since it would be wrong to scratch the bosom of their Mother, and they would never request that their Mother to produce foodgrains from the same patch of earth over and over – she would have become debilitated. Consequently, Baigas used to carry on with a semi-migrant life, and rehearsed ‘ Bewar’ or ‘dahiya’ ( shifting cultivation otherwise called so in their language).
It is accepted that this tribe is an offshoot of the Bhuiya tribe of Chhota Nagpur. A distinctive aspect of the Baiga tribe is that their women are popular for brandishing tattoos of different sorts on practically all parts of their body. The Baigas don’t tattoo themselves . The ones who fill in as tattooing artists belong to the Ojha community and their tattooing expertise passes down the line from mother to daughter .These ladies are better known as “Badnis” . When we look at the history of tattooing, we come to know that tattooing is being done since ages and it is totally passed from one generation to another out of memory or oral history. They gather black sediment from a sesame oil light and add a few drops of water to make the desired solution. Utilizing a slender piece of wood, first the art is drawn on the body and the fluid residue is then stuck into the skin utilising needles .
Generally, Baiga ladies have elaborate tattoos on their arms, legs, back, neck, forehead and chest. Dabs,circles and crosses are the significant shapes which find place in between thicker and finer lines.There is a common motif looking like a triangle which portrays mountains ( as a matter of fact they are predominantly hill dwellers) and a theme of the sun is tattooed on the chest.
They believe the cow’s eye to be wonderful and confounding, subsequently the ‘cow eye’ tattoo is portrayed decisively on the chests and the back. The tattoo on the forehead of every Baiga lady comprises an emblematic moon shape in the centre.The forehead tattoo is done when a young lady is near pubescence, around the age of 8-10 years, denoting her entrance into adulthood. The back, arms and legs are completely tattooed when she reaches an eligible age to get married. Nonetheless, the thighs are done post marriage, provided that her husband wants so . The necks and chests are by and large tattooed in the wake of childbearing, to mean that she has now satisfied and complete womanhood.
Baigas sincerely believe that tattoos are emphatically connected with the beauty of their ladies. They additionally accept that tattoos are carried forward to the next birth. Baiga tattoos are principally propelled by nature .
I really believe …there are several aspects of tribal life of Odisha that may possibly remain unnoticed, unheard if I don’t write about them.
Dr. Manoj Mishra , email@example.com