Gariba Singh Tekam


Born in 1976 into the Pardhan Gond community, Gariba Singh Tekam is a Gond artist from Madhya Pradesh, India. Hailing from the same clan as acclaimed Gond artist Jangarh Singh Shyam, Gariba Singh Tekam was encouraged to take up painting as a profession by Jangarh, which was the silver lining of his otherwise hardship-ridden early days. Gariba is also the youngest brother of renowned Gond artists, Narmada Prasad Tekam and Kala Bai.

Jangarh Shyam marvelled at the forms and colours in Gariba’s artworks, many of which featured figures from the Gond pantheon. The principal deity of the Gond tribes, Baba Dev, and the sacred Saja tree where he resides, make up Gariba’s favourite themes. He also depicts Ghurri Dev – the sentinel of the forest – in his vibrant paintings, and recalls how, as a child, he would pray to Ghurri Dev and make offerings of wood or stone to the god, before entering the forest to collect firewood.

Gariba Singh Tekam works with his wife, Prem Bai, at the Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Manav Sangrahalaya (IGRMS), or the Museum of Mankind in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh. The couple looks after the gallery where Gariba’s painting of the seven Gond brothers is displayed. According to the legend, the youngest of the brothers became the Pardhan or priest of the Gond community – a story that Gariba has always been fascinated by.


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