Situated at about 2000 feet above sea level, Hazaribagh is a thickly forested region in the heart of the Damodar river valley. Ancient rock art sites have been discovered here,like the famous Isko site in Hazaribagh town. The forms and motifs of prehistoric art of ancient tribes like Khurmi, Ganju, Santhals and Oraons who live here. While entire tribal villages have elaborately painted houses,two varieties are outstanding: Khovar and Sohrai paintings.
Much like the bridal chambers of Mithila, Khovar paintings have fertility symbols celebrating union and propagation. Bird motifs,especially the parrots and peacocks,are popular,as are fruit bearing trees. They are mostly made in the wedding season,which extends from January to May.
Sohrai is observed during November to December celebrating the harvesting. Cattle are cleaned and worshiped ,as are agricultural implements,like the plough. Sohrai paintings characteristically have a male god, Pashupati (popularly known as Lord Shiva), the lord of animals shown standing on the back of a bull.
Though tribal khovar and sohrai paintings have not had the market exposure that Madhubani paintings have had,the region has enormous craft energy waiting to be tapped.