designmango-Traditional Indian Art Forms: Warli Painting

Traditional Indian Art Forms: Warli Painting

Warli painting is the indigenous art form of the Warli tribe, one of the largest tribes of India located near Mumbai. Despite their close proximity to the financial capital of India, the tribe rejects the model and values of the city culture and insists on following the natural way of life. 

Connection to Mother Nature: This involves living in clay huts and using them as the background for their paintings. Since the entire culture of the Warli tribe is centered around the concept of living as a part of mother nature, these elements also form a major part of their identity and lifestyle, and as such, are depicted in Warli paintings.

Daily Activities: Moreover, as Warli artists mostly depend on nature and wildlife for food and survival, their respect for them is apparent in their lifestyle and customs that involve activities such as praying and dancing to express their respect and gratefulness. This respect is depicted in Warli paintings through their customs and daily activities such as farming, harvesting, fishing, and hunting. Unlike other traditional art forms of India, Warli paintings share a similarity with the African Zulu paintings as the core themes of both of these styles aren’t mythological and instead center around the daily lives and activities of the tribesmen. 

Culture: As the Warli tribesmen believe in the transference of energy and circle of life, the essence of these folk paintings also revolve around such concepts. Their daily activities also serve to portray the values and ideals of the tribe. As such, Warli paintings are not merely paintings and instead, are stories of Warli customs and daily lives of the tribesmen that contribute to the entire Warli culture, inheritance, and legacy.  

Oral Traditions: Since Warli tribesmen and women speak the Warli language, which is unwritten, they believe in passing down their knowledge, beliefs, and traditions through oral practice. These paintings, then are depicted beautifully on the walls of their houses as they immortalize the oral traditions and tales containing the knowledge and culture of the Warli tribe.

Natural Colors and Canvas: Following their traditions and the natural way of life, the Warli tribesmen use only natural colors such as white rice paste and earth colors. Their canvas too is neither paper nor stone. Instead, it is the cow dung or mud surfaces of their clay huts.

Kushal Trivedi

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