Saura Painting: Odisha’s Timeless Expression of Art and Culture

Vatsal Jain
5 min readMay 25, 2019


The Saura Art

Odisha (formerly Orissa) is wealthy in tribal art as the state has as many as 62 primitive tribal groups who majorly subsist on agriculture.

Like other tribes of India, the particular style, customs, and traditions of the Sauras are etched in artwork created by using the tribe. Saura painting is a style of wall mural painting associated with the Saura tribe of Odisha. Those paintings, also called ikons, preserve spiritual importance for the tribe, generally as a determination to their principal deity, Idital.

The Sauras today are an indigent society, laid low with hunger. Their realistic artistry is a reminder to protect this tribe and their lives from losing the luster they deserve.

Chief Characteristics

It’s beyond one’s grasp to outline the precise symbolic meaning of ikons, encompassing man or woman, horse, elephant, sun, moon, etc. They’re usually painted to please gods and ancestors.

These artworks are famous for their beauty, attraction, iconography, aesthetic, and ritualistic association. These are, in fact, an abode of gems in their conventional understanding, know-how, and folklore. Those artworks are their literature as well as their philosophy.

The description becomes evident whilst the divines or the picture men, as they’re commonly called, decipher them. The minute details of the paintings additionally replicate the regular lifestyles of the Sauras. Cults and myths have an incredible connection to the creative formations of the Sauras.

Handcrafted Saura Painting

The Sauras are specifically well-known for the abundant diversity of their artworks, referred to as sacred and formal subjects. Every painting incorporates various indications and signals to deliver unique elucidation for which it is meant.

The pictograms are labeled into unique sections according to their meaning and objective. These artworks are ravishing showpieces and have been attracting elevated business attention in recent times. Trade, while it touches artwork, alters it. Yet the Lanjia Sauras preserve the ancient innovative articulation in its pristine order.

The Saura artwork is primarily derived from structural styles. Symmetrical shapes like triangles and circles are very often used in wave-like patterns.

The characters are affixed with a net-like strategy. Every mold and sketch turns up some definition related to their social, cultural, and religious ideals.

Saura artworks display the respect of nature via subjects like trees, animals, and tribal humans. “The Tree of Existence” is an alluring frequent image of this artwork. The tree’s arms shelter the animals of the forest, small clay huts, and human beings who’re portrayed carrying out regular chores like women with pots and infants, and men raising livestock or fowling.

The aim is both conventional and mastery for the craft’s welfare. The Saura artwork glorifies rock faces and partitions to honor the departed and avoid ailments. The present Saura paintings have fantastically depicted timber and pictures of dancers carried out with fantastic maneuvers.

Depiction of Mahabharata in Saura Artwork

The Sauras are a prehistoric race. So ancient that they’ve been cited in the Hindu epics Ramayana and Mahabharata.

· Rama’s devotee Savari is assumed to be from the Saura tribe.

· In the Mahabharata, Jara Savara, who accidentally shot an arrow at Krishna’s foot, became a Saura hunter. Krishna forgave Jara before his demise, as Jara was simply following the notion of Karma. In an earlier existence, Jara became the avatar of Sugriva’s brother Vali, whom Vishnu had killed from beyond in his impersonation as Rama; so Jara was shooting down Krishna (the following avatar of Vishnu) in the manner Rama had eliminated Vali.

· Factually saying, in the Hathigumpha engraving (discovered inside the Elephanta Cave) of Kalinga type Kharavela belonging to at least 1–2 century BC, the Savaras (later Sauras) were entitled as Vidyadhardhivasas. They formed a critical section of his ferocious defense, successfully claiming South and North India.

These days, they may be identified by using numerous names such as Saura, Savara, Sabara, Sora, and Soura. They communicate in a Munda language. But they still do not possess a scribbled manuscript. They exercise shift grazing, with some advancing to established farming. They belong to the Proto-Australoid tribal hoard.


The Ikons are idolized during sacred and traditional events comprising toddler arrival, cropping, matrimony, and developing a new residence. Ikons are not appointed often, and a current one can be employed for daily customs.

The construction of a fresh abode, however, calls for the appointment of a new Saura portrait that is sketched in a darkish nook in the home, where its formation is supported by the recitation of a particular set of prayers.

Nowadays, Saura artworks are often completed in non-conventional regions. Their heterogeneity, attributes, and particular trends have offered Saura artwork an ultra-modern touch and a growing reputation in recent years.

The intervention of enterprises and growing recognition of the other shapes have caused both Saura and Warli paintings (from Maharashtra) to select facts of method and style from the other.

Saura paintings on the walls of the cups

They have also been used to increase employment opportunities and have progressively been used to beautify objects like greeting cards, stationery, ornamental wall hangings, and interiors. The Saura paintings are made in diverse sizes beginning from 2 rectangular feet to 8 square feet and also available in quadrangular shapes.

It is disheartening that commoditization is slowly degrading the rich way of lifestyle of this artwork and the portrayal of the maestro has transformed into that of playing a classy designer. Yet even experts need to devour before they sketch.