Mandana Painting – The Tribal Art That Has Taken Over The World

The Land of Maharajas‘, Rajasthan is one of the most exquisite places in the world. Its delicious food, grand architecture, and the beautiful sand dunes that line up in its vast deserts make the state popular. Rajasthan has developed its art through the magnified glares of rich culture and tradition. Naturally, this makes their art forms unique. The state finds its recognition in its art. One such form of art that Rajasthan has given birth to is known as Mandana Painting.

Traditional Mandana Painting
Image source Pinterest

Mandana Painting is a decorative tribal art which has become popular recently. You can find Mandana paintings in many parts of India. Walls and floors are the backdrop of these paintings. The age-old tribe communities of Meenas are the first painters of Mandana.

History of Mandana Painting

Regardless of written records being absent, the origin of Mandana paintings dates back to the Vedic age, 1500 to 500 BCE. This theory’s relevance are the similarities between the designs in Mandana art and the designs found on the Vastu purasha mandalas. Vastu purasha mandalas are altars of Vedic pujas and the architecture of ancient Vedic temples.

The core beliefs of drawing Mandana Paintings and art on the walls and floors are to welcome divinity into the house and keep away from evil forces. In the language of Gujjar Bhakha from which the Marwari language originated, the word Mandana translates to ‘to draw.’ Mandana could also have been coined from the word Mandan, also from Gujjar Bhakha, which means decorating or making something beautiful.

Mandana Painting on walls
Image source utsavpediacom

Making of Mandana Painting

The making of Mandana paintings is an art in itself. It inculcates the traditions and cultures of its people into a simple, yet attractive painting. The clay and the mixture of water and cow dung mark the beginning of the process as it plasters the traditional pattern of the floor. The brush made of twigs, cotton and a small portion of squirrel hair are the paintings tools. The colors used are red and white, as these are the only ones easily available in abundance in the area. Brick and chalk are the sources of red and white colors.

A woman painting on wall
Image source viaeastin

The females of the house make most of the Mandana paintings. This is so because traditionally, females were responsible of taking care of the house and their family. Occasions and auspicious days are when Mandana is painted. It is a symbol of the presence of good and to ward off evil. Festival of Navratri and Diwali are especially important occasions to draw new Mandana paintings. This adds value to the house after the place is thoroughly cleaned. Public spaces are a popular choice for Mandana painters as a form of celebrating the art and culture of their tribe and people.

Sources of Inspiration

The designs of the Mandana paintings are quite simple, even rudimentary. It’s the easy intricate designs that distinguish them as an attractive art form. The cultural deities, altars of Vedic yajna, plants, animals, and birds that are considered auspicious, mostly peacocks are the most sought-after designs that are found in these paintings.

Mandana Painted on walls
Image source ohmyrajasthancom Durgesh Nandini

A different type of Mandana paintings depends on the architecture. For example, the ‘Tapki Ke Mandanas’ that includes geometric shapes like triangles, rhombus, rectangles and squares made by making graphs after plotting points on the walls and floors. Another famous form of Mandana paintings is ‘jaali’ or lattice screen. Jaali screen designs found predominantly in their architecture were the inspiration behind the Mandanas.


Although Mandana paintings are simple, they need to be drawn perfectly in the first go. There’s no option of erasing it and drawing again. This art form is not taught or passed down through generations. Girls have to learn it on their own through the work of their mothers and other elder females. Due to westernization, the art form is slowly losing its dominant presence in the world of art. Two villages in Rajasthan, Tonk and Sawai Madhopur are among the few which still prominently showcase Mandana art.

Traditional painting
Image source utsavpediacom

There are still many that include this tribal form in their houses, ornaments, garments with its original purpose of beautification. Traditional clothes use mandanas, and their designs are used on jewelry and architecture as well. Artists all over the world are bringing Mandana art to life through their paintings on canvas. However, all these have not brought back the significance of this art in the villages where it began.

Also follow Rajasthan Studio on Instagram for more amazing art and travel content. Reach out to us on email at contact[at]rajasthanstudio[dot]com. This blog is curated by Rajasthan Studio and written by Deepti Parmar.

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