The Khovar Collection

Murals and matrimonial rituals

In the tribal villages of Hazaribagh in northeastern India, mud homes are adorned with bold, figurative murals. These designs, known as khovar, are painted by the women of the villages as part of a traditional matrimonial ritual. Symbolizing fertility, the mural-making takes place each spring during the marriage season. Produced through a sgraffito technique, a layer of dark charcoal earth is first applied to the exterior of the mud homes and left to dry. The walls, which make for extra large canvases, are then covered with a pale kaolin clay. Before this coat of light-colored earth dries, the women use broken combs or their fingers to brush and scrape away the lighter earth, creating lyrical, black and white silhouettes with exaggerated brushstrokes. When the annual, heavy monsoon rains arrive, the murals are washed away, leaving behind a blank canvas for the year to come

Drawn to the exaggerated scale and the beauty of the impermanent nature of the khovar designs, l’aviva home found inspiration for a new collection of fabrics and wallpapers. The New York-based design studio contacted Bulu Imam, the director of the Tribal Women Artists Cooperative (TWAC) in Hazaribagh, and commissioned the women in the villages to do a series of three original paintings: flower, leaf and vine. With meticulous attention paid to preserving the integrity of the natural earthen colors, the detailed brushstrokes, and the large scale of the paintings, l’aviva home worked to translate the designs onto linen fabric and clay-coated paper, giving rise to their new khovar collection.

This collaboration with Bulu Imam and the Tribal Women Artists Cooperative is representative of l’aviva home’s commitment to working alongside artisan groups around the globe, and to helping give new voice to age-old traditions. TWAC was created to promote and preserve the region’s traditional art forms, which grow ever-more threatened in light of complex political, social and economic conditions in the area. The cooperative has  the mission of working to preserve Hazaribagh’s rich artistic tradition in khovar painting, whose roots date back to the wall paintings of prehistoric times.

A recent exhibition at the Brunei Gallery in London showcased l’aviva home’s khovar collection wallpapers alongside the photographs of renowned photographer Deidi von Schawaen - who has spent years documenting the homes in the area and throughout India - and original paintings by the TWAC. Titled The Painted Forest Villages of Hazaribagh, this exhibition highlighted the tradition of Hazaribagh’s painted houses.

Khovar collection wallpapers and fabrics are available exclusively through l’aviva home. https:// A percentage of the proceeds from sales of l’aviva home’s khovar collection goes to the TWAC, towards the support of preserving the mural-painting tradition.

For more information on TWAC, please visit:



Please signup or login to comment