The Bhils are the second largest tribal community in western and central India. Closely connected to the land, their beliefs are manifest in ceremonies, songs, dances, folklore and painting.
Painting is a form of prayer and healing for the Bhils. Every year, they paint their walls with 'pithoras', as offerings to the goddess. Colourful illustrations from everyday life are painted with neem twig-brushes using natural pigments, on a fresh layer of clay and cowdung. They are filled with bright colours, and a characteristic overlay of uniformly dotted patterns. Of the many stories connected to the use of the dot, they believe that each dot in the painting is representative of an ancestor.
In this painting 'Gatala Dev' is shown as a man riding a horse with the sun over his head. When someone dies, a memorial stone or 'Gatala' is santified, and the family prays for blessing and protection. In order to please the spirit the village is invited for a feast and offered Mahua wine.