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Bhuri Bai
Bhuri Bai receiving the Padma Shri award from President Ram Nath Kovind
StyleBhil art
AwardsPadma Shri (2021)
HonoursShikhar Samman, Madhya Pradesh

Bhuri Bai is an Indian Bhil artist. She was born in Pitol village, situated on the border of Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat. Pitol is a village of Jhabua district in Madhya Pradesh. Bhuri Bai belongs to the community of Bhils, the largest tribal group of India. She has won many awards including the highest state honour accorded to artists by the Madhya Pradesh government, the Shikhar Samman.[1] She was awarded India's fourth highest civilian award the Padma Shri in 2021.[2][3]

Early life

Like her contemporary Jangarh Singh Shyam, Bhuri Bai was encouraged by J Swaminathan of Bhopal's Bharat Bhavan to start using acrylic colours and paper to make paintings. Before that, she, like other members of her community, would create art on the walls of her home. Bhuri was proficient in the making of Pithora paintings.

“In the village, we had to work so hard to extract colour from plants and clay. And here I was given so many shades of colour and a ready made brush!”[4]

Besides painting, Bhuri Bai is also adept at the skill of hut-making, which she learnt from her mother Jhabbu Bai. She contributed to the construction of the Bhil hut in the Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Manav Sangrahalaya or Museum of Man in Bhopal, where she resides.[5] In fact, when Bhuri Bai first arrived in Bhopal, she was engaged as a construction labourer at Bharat Bhavan—a job that earned her Rs 6 per day. It was here that she first met Jagdish Swaminathan, who spotted her talent and encouraged her to paint.[6] Bhuri bai started her work alongside her community artist Lado Bai.[7]

Bhuri Bai in 2016

Style and themes

A Bhil painting by Bhuri Bai

Bhil art is considered by some to be the oldest of India's tribal art forms. It bears similarity to the aboriginal art of Australia, especially in its use of multi-coloured dots as in-filling.[8][9] Bhuri Bai was the first artist of her community to start painting on paper. Her typically colourful canvases usually depict mythological themes, bucolic scenes and man-animal interactions, although later works have incorporated modern elements like airplanes and cellphones.[10]


Awards and honours


  1. ^ "Bhuri Bai | Paintings by Bhuri Bai | Bhuri Bai Painting -". Saffronart. Retrieved 2019-03-15.
  2. ^ "Padma Awards 2021 announced". Ministry of Home Affairs. Retrieved 26 January 2021.
  3. ^ "Shinzo Abe, Tarun Gogoi, Ram Vilas Paswan among Padma Award winners: Complete list". The Times of India. 25 January 2021. Retrieved 25 January 2021.
  4. ^ "Bhuri Bai of Pitol | IGNCA". Retrieved 2019-03-15.
  5. ^ "Bhuri Bai Jher". Bhil Art. Retrieved 2019-03-18.
  6. ^ Choudhury, Rabindra Nath (2017-10-07). "Woman gets Bhil tribal art world recognition". The Asian Age. Retrieved 2019-03-18.
  7. ^ "Lado Bai | IGNCA". Retrieved 2019-03-26.
  8. ^ "Tribal tones". Deccan Herald. 2014-10-18. Retrieved 2019-03-18.
  9. ^ Administrator, Website (2015-04-14). "Gond art and its counterparts in India and Australia: Comparing the works of Bhil, Gond and Rathwa tribal artists – Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat". Tribal Cultural Heritage in India Foundation. Retrieved 2019-03-18.
  10. ^ "Bhuri Bai | Sutra Gallery LLC". sutragallery. Archived from the original on 2017-08-26. Retrieved 2019-03-18.
  11. ^
  12. ^ "शिखर सम्मान", विकिपीडिया (in Hindi), 2018-02-03, retrieved 2019-03-15