Santhal paintings are done not only for professional purposes but also for artistic value, and they are used a lot during celebrations. The art form originated from the Santhal tribe in India and is in its renaissance period in the modern contemporary art period. With its executive motifs, vibrant colours, and authentic cultural significance, it is getting talked about not only in India but also worldwide for its significant artistic quality and value. Originally, Santhal was painted on a Pata or a cloth. Their colours originated naturally from flowers and plants in the past. This comeback helps the new generation audience to get a chance to look into the ancient beauty and class art of its nation’s roots.

Historical Background

Santhal paintings love for culture can easily be seen in their tribe. They celebrate their culture during springtime and during the month of October as well. They have their roots in rituals, beliefs enraged in their art and values. The central aspect of this art was that it was seen as a storytelling form for the next generations, having a story to tell for decades and decades, letting the next generation be aware of the art and craft and the lineage that they arrived from. Usually, Santhal paintings adorn the space walls of a home, showcasing scenes from traditions, customs, myths, nature and many more.



Santhal paintings are characterised by the use of their simplicity, boldness and use of natural colours derived from minerals, plants and nature. Their figures are portrayed with exaggerated and over-the-top emotions and expressions, stylised manners and dynamic poses. The way the patterns are made and drawn keeps a rhythm in their paintings, and their paintings on a large scale contain paintings of nature, keeping their environment close to their heart and art.


Various artists, scholars and cultural organisations have taken it upon themselves to preserve and carry forward these paintings. In the recent past, classical art forms, including art forms from the tribes, have intensively been used for modernisation, not only in India but also worldwide, increasing the charm and longevity of the art form. With the general art market in various cultures returning to their classic and vintage roots, Santhal paintings have found a resurgence in the market, also elevating the style quotient of the general public’s appreciation of art. All the above factors contributed to the significant revival and comeback of this art form.


Contemporary artists are using ancient motifs with today’s sensibilities and techniques. Few individuals have raised questions about this system. One of the best painters in India, Raja Ravi Varma, also had to go through this process. In the past, he was known to use Indian sensibilities and art with European techniques, which drew praise for his work, but he also received a lot of criticism because of the usage of foreign techniques. Current artists use this painting to portray the social inequalities, degradation of human life and overall the current situation of today’s generation, making Santhal paintings very applicable in today’s time as well.

Current Impact

The comeback of Santhal paintings and tribe art has not only given us knowledge about their craft but has also helped them gain enormous success, even in monetary ways. Through collaborations, workshops, and exhibitions with the current artists in the market, they have gained followers and immense loyal fanbase. They are majorly sustained by nature, by occupations like farming, hunting and fishing; after working long hours, they sing and dance, and they eternally have a positive attitude towards life, which is showcased in their art form, which is now getting recognition as well as getting intertwined with other contemporary art forms as well.

Pros and Cons 

Although success is evident, there needs to be more historical knowledge and accuracy and, eventually, a lack of social support on a large scale. However, there is potential for growth with the usage of digital platforms and various collaborations with various brands, and even incorporating the art in the education system, even at a basic level, at this level for the tribal artists will be a big boon.

Image Credit – Google

Santhal painting has a long history and enduring appeal, which keeps drawing viewers worldwide. The resurgence of this ancient art form serves as a reminder of the ongoing power of culture, creativity, and community as we negotiate the challenges of the modern world. Adopting Santhal art protects a beloved custom and enhances our lives with its grace, humanity, and wisdom.