The Savara tribal art — Edisinge — that once flourished in the Eastern Ghats, is on the verge of extinction owing to the change in the religious profile and lifestyle of the community.
Until 2011, the number of Edisinge artists was below 15 in Srikakulam district, home to the Savara tribe in Andhra Pradesh, with a population of above 1.05 lakh. “We started the Savara Art Society in 2011 to revive our art as some of the surviving artists are too old to practise it,” Savara Raju of Addakulaguda hamlet told The Hindu over phone.
Mr. Raju, 26, who inherited the art from his father China Sumburu, trained a batch of 30 youths of their tribe through the SAS, but barely three are now actively practising it.
The tribe’s association with nature and wildlife is vividly depicted through drawings on mud walls by using vermillion, rice powder and charcoal. The lifestyle, modes of agriculture, hunting, festivals and life in the forest are the prime themes. The art works are replaced by new ones once in two or five years.
Window to the past
“The art offers a peek into the lifestyle of our previous generations. Change in the religious profile of our families and replacement of mud houses with concrete buildings are the reasons for the slow death of the ancient art,” Savara Rajendra Prasad told The Hindu .
Mr. Rajendra Prasad, an engineering graduate from JNTU-Hyderabad, is now working with Kothuru-based NGO Sanjeevani on Savara tribal issues in Srikakulam district. The Seetampeta Integrated Tribal Development Authority has also been striving to revive it in many ways. “The Edisinge artists have been given projects by the Indian Railways and the Visakhapatnam Urban Development Authority with the twin objectives of promoting the art and giving youth of the tribe a chance to earn their livelihood, ” ITDA Seetampeta Project Officer L. Shiva Sankar told The Hindu .