India is rich in folk art and this tradition has been upheld and sustained by the tribal populations, in different pockets of the country. One of the most famous art forms in India is the Warli painting. It is a style of tribal art created by the tribal people from the North Sahyadri Range in India.
Originating in Maharashtra, this beautiful folk art was created by the tribal women. The Warli and Malkhar Koli tribes are found on the outskirts of north Mumbai. These tribal people express themselves through vivid styles on paintings executed on the walls of their houses.
The important aspect of Warli paintings is that they do not represent mythological characters or deities; they depict social life. Animals, trees and other forms of nature co-exist with humans, in scenes from daily life in a loose, rhythmic pattern.The paintings resemble pre-historic cave paintings and figure humans engaged in activities like hunting, fishing, farming, sowing, harvesting and dancing.
Although economically backward, the tribals still maintain their indigenous customs and traditions. Warli paintings are painted on mud walls. The painting is done on an austere mud base in mostly white, which is obtained by grinding rice to white powder. There are occasional dots in yellow and red.The paintings also depict marriages and other aspects considered sacred.They serve the social and religious aspirations of the people.
The Warli paintings are extremely rudimentary using the basic graphics of a circle, triangle and a square.The circle best defines the tribal art – no beginning and no end. They also represent the sun and moon. The triangle is derived from pointed trees and mountains. The square defines a sacred enclosure, the ‘chauk’ for the mother Goddess, symbolizing fertility.
The art of the tribal people symbolizes harmony of humans with each other and nature.