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Warli Paintings

Warli is a variety of paintings that is found only in Maharashtra which is the folk art tradition of the largest tribe. Warli belongs to the northern outskirts of Mumbai. The tribal community include Warli, Kathodi, Kokana, Dhodi, Malhar Koli are to name a few. The word Warli comes from Warla meaning a piece of land or a field. The exact origin of Warli paintings cannot be traced but it is believed that this art form existed from the Neolithic age between 2500 and 3000 BC. Historians have traced their origin back to the 10th century. The paintings have similar resemblance those paintings that were done in Madhya Pradesh in the rock shelters of Bhimbetka.

The Warli paintings are made to decorate the walls of their houses by the tribal women. They are not made of permanent colours, but are repainted on every special occasion like weddings, harvest festivals and more. The Warli tribe is untouched by the urbanisation.

The Warli paintings depict the social events of the Warli tribe through the paintings. Today, these paintings can be seen on paper as well as on cloth. Earlier, only women used do the paintings but today many men have started taking part in this painting.

The people from Warli tribe have gradually moved to the town and many of them can found in the Thane district in Maharashtra. They are still economically backward but the demand and popularity of the Warli paintings have uplifted them from poverty. But even today, they follow their traditions and cultural values very closely.

Designs in Warli Paintings

Warli paintings are the most famous art form that is still prevalent in India. This traditional folk art done by the women of the Warli tribe is very popular due to its beauty and uniqueness. This art form is mainly used by the tribal people as a mode to express their socio-religious events that they have witnessed. The main feature of Warli paintings is that there are neither any mythological characters nor the images of deities can be seen on them. These paintings show only social events and the day to day life of the tribal people.

The main themes involved in these paintings are that of humans and animals showing their day to day activities in a rhythmic pattern. The paintings are made on mud walls, charcoals as well as treated surfaces with white or cream paint. These patterns are not made permanently but they are redrawn on every special occasion. Generally, natural paints like henna, indigo, black, brick red are used to make various patterns. The patterns in these paintings include mainly geometrical patterns like circles, triangles and squares. The circles are used for denoting sun and moon, triangles are used for showing trees and mountains and square is for showing land. Here, triangles are joined to depict humans.

Another unique feature of these paintings is that no straight lines are used. Geometric patterns dominate the whole paintings. In olden times, these paintings were created on walls, but today they are made on papers as well as clothes. Many improvisations are made in these paintings these days due to its increasing popularity and demand.

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