Tattooing tradition among BAIGAS

The Baigas tribes are counted among Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups. They primarily belong from Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Bihar, Odisha, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, and Uttar Pradesh. Customarily, the Baiga people lived a semi-nomadic life and followed slash and burn cultivation. Nowadays, they are principally reliant on forest produce for their living. The tribe practice shifting cultivation. They also believe to never plow the earth because it would be akin to scratching the breast of their mother earth. “Mother Earth would have become weakened if they ask their mother to produce food from the same patch of earth time and time again”. They also saw themselves as people of the forest, who could only live on the produce of the forest. It was below the dignity for them to become a laborer.

Baiga is one of the tribes for whom tattooing is an essential part of their existence. This tribe inhabits the dense hilly forests in the eastern part of the Satpuras, in Shahdol, Bilaspur, Rajandgaon, Mandla and Balaghat districts. The Baigas are of Dravidian stock and are one of eight prime tribes of Madhya Pradesh. It is believed that this tribe is an offshoot of the Bhuiya tribe of Chhota Nagpur. A distinguishing feature of the Baiga tribe is that their women are famous for crafting tattoos of countless varieties on practically all portions of their bodies. The women who work as tattooing artistes belong to Qjha. They are tremendously experienced about the diverse kinds of tattoos fancied by several tribes. Their mother customarily passes on this wisdom to them. Tattooing among the family begins with the approach of winter and resumes until summer.