The Owl and Peacock Story


Gond is a celebrated, shared art tradition practised by the Gond-Pradhan community in India. It was first ‘discovered’ by Jagdish Swaminathan, searching for original artworks from Indian tribes in the 1970s. The search ended with him meeting the talented artist Jangarh Singh Shyam, considered the pioneer of Gond art. The themes of the painting revolve around ritualistic idols and motifs, narrative paintings, and depictions of the natural world and its harmony. These usually follow an intricate pattern of lines and dots within the figures depicted.

This painting created by Subhash Vyam is a narrative painting based on a folk story of an Owl and a peacock. It tells of an election day in the jungle. The story goes: To choose the king of the jungle the animals once held an election. The results revealed a tie between a mor (peacock) and an ullu (owl), and therefore a panchayat was set up to decide the winner. They decided that the ullu couldn’t be the king of the jungle – afterall, he was considered foolish. And so, the Mor won the election. Then came the coronation day, and the mor, who was obsessed with his appearances, took such efforts to get dressed that he completely lost track of time. The animals waited at length to no avail – the Mor did not turned up. Annoyed, they crowned the ullu their new king.This humorous short story can be interpreted as a piece of political satire; it takes a jibe at the candidates, the voters and the electoral system as a whole. One wonders if when it was first written, it was based on real events concerning real people.

To read more on the artform, click here.

The Owl and Peacock Stor
Subhash Vyam
Acrylic on Canvas
H: 177.8 cm x W: 132 cm
Accession No.