Votive animal figures. Red ochre washed terracotta; 68 cm x 44 cm; 70 cm x 46 cm; 69 cm x 32 cm. Jhabua, Madhya Pradesh. Contemporary VC.
The Jhabua district in Madhya Pradesh borders Chhota Udaipur in Gujarat. In both these areas the tribal population of the Bhils, Bhilalas, Rathvas, Nayaks and Dhanuks, have a tradition of offering votive animal figures,1 along with a dhabu to the various deities residing in shrines located on the frontiers of fields and divisions between plots.
Every year, during the Dusshera festival the entire village gets together and commissions a huge horse, along with a dhabu for the oil lamp, which are offered together with bowls of grain at the main daivasthana or village shrine for the general well-being and prosperity of the village.
The characteristic modelling technique employed by both the Chhota Udaipur and Jhabua kumhars or potters, is such that the main body is wheel-turned, very much like an elongated jar, as are the tube like limbs and the curiously shaped head, while the rest of the embellishments are hand-modelled. The not-so-subtle gaping hole in the frontal side of the animal’s body, a natural anomaly and consequence of the wheel, is an indication of the creative license exercised by the potters of this region.
1 Khan, 1986f
2 In conversation with Mushtak Khan