Fading Canvases: A Deep Dive into Endangered Indian Art Forms

Fading Canvases: A Deep Dive into Endangered Indian Art Forms



India, a land of diverse cultures and traditions, is also home to a myriad of traditional art forms that have stood the test of time. However, in the face of modernization and changing lifestyles, some of these exquisite art forms are on the brink of extinction. This article delves into the rich tapestry of India's heritage, shedding light on fading art forms that are struggling to survive the tides of time.

1. Manjusha Painting

Origin: Bhagalpur, Bihar (7th century)


Manjusha Painting, a vibrant folk art style, originated in the 7th century in Bhagalpur, Bihar. Depicting the life of the local deity, Manjusha Devi, this art form flourished during the Bishahari festival. However, the 20th century witnessed a decline, risking the extinction of this captivating narrative art. Preservation efforts are crucial to keep this colorful glimpse of Bihar's culture alive.

Patta Chitra, translating to "cloth painting" in Sanskrit, is an ancient art form deeply intertwined with Hindu mythology. Used in religious rituals and temple ceremonies, these paintings portray the ten incarnations of Vishnu and episodes from epics like Ramayana and Mahabharata. Despite

2. Patta Chitra

Origin: Orissa (present Odisha)


Government initiatives in Odisha, Patta Chitra faces challenges in sustaining the interest of contemporary artists, posing a threat to its rich cultural legacy.

3. Rogan Painting

Origin: Gujarat


Rogan Painting, an oil-based art form rooted in Gujarat, traces its origins to the Muslim communities. Using natural ingredients like vegetable pigments and castor oil, artists create intricate designs on cloth. While efforts by artists like Abdul Gafoor Khatri aim to preserve this 300-year-old legacy, Rogan Painting faces challenges due to the rise of machine-printed fabrics, impacting its affordability and popularity.

4. Mithila (Madhubani) Art

Origin: Mithila region of India and Nepal


Madhubani art, practiced in the Mithila regions, is a folk painting form dominated by geometric patterns and warm color tones. Originating in Bihar, Madhubani painting has ancient roots, with women across castes contributing to its legacy. Today, it is practiced in limited places, marking it as one of the endangered art forms in India.

5. Puppetry Art

Origin: Ancient times in India


Puppetry, a storytelling art form using miniature characters called Kathputli, has a rich history dating back thousands of years. However, with the advent of modern technology and limited support, traditional puppetry is struggling to compete for attention. The challenge lies in preserving this ancient craft amidst changing interests and technological advancements.

6. Chhau Dance

Origin: Eastern India (Odisha, Jharkhand, West Bengal)


Chhau Dance, characterized by vibrant costumes and masks, narrates tales from Indian epics and folklore. Despite being a cherished part of India's heritage, Chhau Dance faces a decline, with factors like changing interests and insufficient attachment to this cultural dance form contributing to its fading popularity.

7. Burra Katha

Origin: Late 19th and early 20th centuries


Burra Katha, a storytelling art form involving expressive gestures and music, captivated audiences during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. However, dwindling support and resources, coupled with waning interest among younger generations, pose challenges to the survival of Burra Katha as a traditional art form.

8. Toda Embroidery

Origin: Nilgiri Hills, Tamil Nadu


Toda Embroidery, a tapestry of tradition from the Nilgiri Hills, has been practiced by the Toda tribe for generations. While efforts are made to preserve this unique art form, the intricate and time-consuming nature of Toda Embroidery poses challenges in passing it down to future generations.

9. Parsi Embroidery

Origin: Parsi community in India


Parsi Embroidery, rooted in Persian culture and brought to India by the Parsi community, gained popularity in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. However, the intricate nature of this embroidery, requiring great patience and skill, poses a challenge in passing it down to subsequent generations, contributing to its gradual decline.

10. Patola Saree

Origin: Gujarat (11th and 12th centuries)


Patola sarees, known for their double ikat weave, were once considered royal attire in Gujarat. Despite being a symbol of luxury and tradition, the intricate and time-consuming process of creating Patola sarees, along with the scarcity of skilled artisans, has led to their slow fading. Preservation efforts aim to keep this vibrant tradition alive.

11. Naga Handicrafts

Origin: Naga tribes


Naga handicrafts, integral to the daily lives of Naga tribes, face challenges in the modern world. Efforts are underway to ensure that these exquisite handwoven textiles, jewellery, basketry, and woodwork continue to be valued for their cultural significance and craftsmanship.

12. Dokra (Dhokra) Handicraft

Origin: Chhattisgarh and West Bengal


Dokra, a metalwork masterpiece with roots dating back over 4,000 years, faces challenges in the modern era. Using the "lost-wax casting" method, Dokra artisans create intricate metal sculptures depicting tribal life, nature, and mythology. Preservation efforts are crucial to maintain this ancient craft's legacy.


As we navigate the currents of modernity, it is imperative to recognize and preserve the cultural gems that define India's rich heritage. Efforts by artists, communities, and organizations are vital in ensuring that these endangered art forms continue to weave tales of tradition, craftsmanship, and identity for generations to come.