Posted on April 08 2015

On first look the above painting looks like a confused expression of miniature geometric designs. But as you look closer, you can see that these small figures depict something. They depict the life of a tribe – their day to day lifestyle, their festive occasions, their tools, their weapons, their small huts, their dances et al.

And if you found this interesting then.....welcome to the world of Warli paintings!

Warli paintings are the traditional treasures of the Warli tribes who inhabit Maharashtra and Gujarat borders. They speak a language called Varli. The Warli art dates back to thousands of years. The tribes of Warli used to decorate their huts with these paintings depicting various aspects of their tribal life.

The paintings are basically sketches made with very basic geometric shapes of circle, square and triangle. The circle initially was used to express the Sun and Moon; the triangle for depicting mountains and trees. The square cannot be traced to any particular things but had ambiguous expressions.

Using these three geometric shapes, various drawings were made on the walls which were red in colour. On the red walls, the drawings were made using white colour. Warli paintings only showcase red and white colour. But with passing time and these paintings getting recognition, other colours have also been infused.

A typical Warli painting always has a square central motif and this is surrounded by other shapes around it. The scenes surrounding the central motif portray hunting, fishing and farming, festivals and dances, trees and animals. Human and animal bodies are represented by two triangles joined at the tip. Usually Warli paintings have a Goddess symbolising fertility as the central motif. They do not have any male Gods in their traditions.

The painting is done with a brush made by chewing ends of a bamboo stick. This is dipped in paste made of rice, water and gum to paint the walls on occasions of weddings and harvests.

In the above illustration one can clearly see the central motif surrounded by many figures around it. The figures of men dancing, playing tribal drums and musical instruments and making merry make it complete.

The beauty of Warli paintings lies in its simplicity – the untouched innocence of humanity reflects in this art. Despite so many years, these paintings have not yet been corrupted by the menace of modernisation and technology. The innocence of expression still remains.

However, these painting have got their due nationally as well as internationally. Warli paintings definitely find a place in a classy lobby or a art house. People have also adorned Warli art on the walls of their living room.

Hopefully, this art will remain in our rich heritage for many more years to come.


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