Traditional Art & Folk Dances Of Jharkhand (Prelims Special), Download PDF Here

By Trupti Thool|Updated : December 15th, 2021

Dear Students, 

In this new series, we will be preparing you for JPSC prelims. We will give you a complete analysis of all topics which are important for Prelims. This prelims special series is for Paper-II topics, Jharkhand Special. Thank you!! Stay Connected.


Most delicate, fragile, beautiful and threatened indigenous traditions of India are from Jharkhand. In this article we will understand traditions, paintings, crafts and dances of Jharkhand.

Distinctive Traditions:

Each sub-caste and tribal grouping of Jharkhand has a unique tradition to uphold.

  • Oraon comb-cut Painting: Images of cattle, feeding troughs, papyrus, birds, fish, plants, circled lotus, zigzag, square, opposing triangle geometric forms, arches in series - are common. Floral art forms are used during harvest time.
  • Ganju art forms: Large murals of animals, birds, and floral exotica, are made to decorate homes. Endangered animals are often depicted in picture-story tradition.
  • Prajapati, Rana & Teli, the three sub-castes, decorate their homes with plant and animal fertility forms, using both finer painting and comb cutting techniques. The 'prajapati' style uses filigree work, with emphasis on zoomorphic plant representations and Pashupati (Shiva), the God of Animals, and floral motifs filled with colour.
  • Kurmi, an unique style of 'sohrai', where drawing outlines are scratched onto the surface of a wall with nails and a wooden compass is used to etch the segmented lotus. Pashupati or Lord Shiva is depicted as a horned deity on the back of a bull. Red, black and white lines are drawn in pairs on either side to represent the ashes of ancestors. The Kurmis of Bhehwara use glyptic art.
  • Mundas use their fingers to paint in the soft, wet earth of their homes and use unique motifs like the rainbow snake and plant forms of deities. Lavender-gray coloured mud from rock-art sites next to Munda villages, are used with ochre mud as a contrast colour.
  • Ghatwals use glyptic paintings of animals on their forest dwellings.
  • Turi, who is a small community of basket-makers, uses predominantly floral and jungle-based motifs in natural, earthy tones on the walls of their homes.
  • Manjhi Santhal - The striking warring figures painted in black on simple clay plaster walls are startling reminders that their origins probably had links with the Indus Valley civilization.
  • Straw Paintings - This is the modern art form developed in Jharkhand. In this art form, a layer of paddy straw is spread and flattened by heat. On this layer, paintings are painted and are cut out from the layer. After this, these paintings are pasted on a black surface.



• The derivation of Khovar is ‘Kho’ or ‘Koh’, meaning a cave or room and ‘var’ meaning bride. Hence, Khovar a celebration of fertility in marriage.

• Khovar or the Comb-Cut art is mainly done during the marriage season.



• Sohrai festival is celebrated immediately with the harvesting of Diwali. On this occasion, the tribals make pictures of their home walls. The soil is cleaned with dung/paste. Then the solution of rice flour is portrayed as "Aripan", which forms in a geometric shape



• These are generally practised by the Santhals in which the artisans make scrolls called Jado or Jadopatia and are drawn with natural inks and colours. They are used as visual aids in storytelling. These paintings are made on a piece of paper and clothes, combined together.



Jharkhand is known for its woodwork, bamboo works, pitkar paintings, tribal ornaments and stone carving.

Bamboo Craft

• The work of bamboo crafts is done by the tribes: Yal, Ho, God, Pahadiya, etc.

Paitkar Paintings

• One of the oldest tribal paintings in India, these are also called scroll paintings due to their appearance, depicts life after death.

Metal Work

Dhokra style is a famous example of metal work. It is a metal craft or brass work done by the Malhore caste made by using resin, wax and firewood from the forests and clay from the riverbed.

Stone Carving

In Jharkhand, the stone carving is mainly done in the region of Ghatshila, Seraikela, Chandil, Palamu and Dumka.

Toy Making

They are wooden cut outs, glossed with eye-catching canary paint. Agile puppets are usually made from palm leaf slivers painted with pink dots and finger paintings.



This Dance symbolizes battle-art. The dancing artiste holds a shield (Dhal) in his left hand and a twoedged sword in his right hand. Peacock wings (Pankh) are thrust in turban. It is generally performed by the Munda community. • This is accompanied by musical instruments like the Nagara drums, Dhak, Shehnai, Narsingha and Bheir.


This is the festival of spring or Holi festival. Men primarily take part in this dance. Ganyaaha (singing) Bajjani (playboy) and male nortak buds dance around the side. • The main instrument of this dance is the clarinet, continuing, Murali, Dhol, Nagadra, Dhank, Karah and Mandar.


This is a famous tribal dance performed mainly during the night in any open space, field or ground. Since the characters in the dance depict various Gods, the dancers maintain sacredness and sanctity by taking a bath and doing pooja before a performance. Surrounding the dance area, the fire poles called Mashaal are fixed around the dance area for lighting purposes though they have now been replaced by electric lights in urban areas. Huge colourful masks called Chhou masks made of paper mache are worn by the dancers and the dance is generally in the form of a Nritya Natika or dance drama. Mythological stories from the Ramayana and Mahabharata are enacted accompanied by traditional instruments like Nagara drums, flute etc.


This dance is derived from a sacred tree named Kadamba, which is believed to bring prosperity. It is performed during the Kadamb (Karam) festival in the month of August. The dancers form a circle and dance with their hands on each other’s waists while passing on a branch of the tree to each other. After one complete circle of passing the Karma branch, it is washed with rice and milk. The branch is not allowed to touch the earth after these rituals and it is once again raised between the dancers.

Jhenana Jhumar

This dance is performed by the women of the Nagpuri and Santhal communities during all festivities and harvest season.

Mardani Jhumar

It is a semi martial art form performed by the men of the Nagpuri and Southern tribes.

Jhitka and Danga

This dance is performed by men and women and the headgear and costume worn are similar to those of the Paika dance.


This dance belongs to the Santhal community. It is performed during Sohrai, coinciding with Kali Puja, but with a difference. The community worship Kapila, the cow, performing the slow yet fleeting movements. The women sing the Churnavara geet and the males sing songs with lyrics to awaken the cow. Even Langre sangeet is sung during the performance.


This is a tribal dance performed in the Santhal villages of East Singhbhum, Dumka, and Santhal Pargana of Jharkhand. Based on a folklore, this tribal dance is performed on the full moon day of the Sawan Purnima in July - August during the Gomha festival, with much fervour and fanfare. The folk tale behind Rinjha can be understood as a slow transition from Jungle Life to agrarian civilization.


It is one of the oldest dances performed by the hunter community of Jharkhand performed in the Jesth (May-June) months. In the midst of the forest, hunters perform a dance with brisk movements and loud resounding music, before they begin their hunt.


Dasai is a ritualistic ancient dance form of the Adivasi Santal culture. On the day of Mahalaya, which also happens to be the first day of Navratras, tribal men adorn brightly colored dholis made out of saris, tie ghunghroos to their feet, wear a headgear of peacock feathers and go from village to village performing the Dasai dance, beating brass plates and playing the traditional musical instrument. The charisma of Goddess Durga is described by the Dasai dancers through the lyrics they weave, in the stories of Kajol and Ayon.

Sarhul & Baha

The Sarhul dance is performed by the Oroan and Munda communities. On a similar occasion, the Baha dance is performed by the Santhals in Jharkhand. This dance is performed around the Sal tree all through the day and night for three days. Dahar and Langre steps are performed in the dance.


Firkal is a martial form of dance. It is performed on the day of Akhan Jatra, the day following Makar Sankranti. It is a male-dominated dance and the dance portrayals are mostly enactments of hunting scenes and self-defense.

Seraikela Chhau

The Seraikela Chhau is one of the three Chhau dance forms of Eastern India, in the states of West Bengal, Orissa and Jharkhand. This dance form is based on martial arts, which incorporates the Veera Rasa of the Indian dramatic spectrum.


Jadur is the dance form that is admired among the Oraons tribal people. It symbolizes the productiveness, energy and shows the mark of respect to the motherland with the dedication of the sun god Natua

Mage Dance

It is performed on a full moon in the month of Magha (February-March), in which, males and females dance together. First, they dance and then sing folk songs


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PrachiAug 25, 2021

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