Thursday, November 1, 2007

Warli Paintings: Exotic Form of simple art

Origin of Warli Paintings

Warli folk paintings are the painting of Maharashtra. Warli is the name of the largest tribe found on the northern outskirts of Mumbai, in Western India. The word “ Warli” comes from “warla” which means a piece of land or a field Despite being in such close proximity of the largest metropolis in India, Warli tribesmen are still not urban. Warli Art was first discovered in the early seventies. While there are no records of the exact origins of this art, its roots may be traced to as early as the 10th century AD. Warli is the vivid expression of daily and social events of the Warli tribe of Maharashtra, used by them to decorate the walls of village houses. This was the only means of transmitting folklore to a others who are not acquainted with the written word.

Theme of this simple Art

These paintings do not depict mythological characters or images of deities, but depict social life. Images of human beings and animals, along with scenes from daily life are created in a loose rhythmic pattern. Painted white on mud walls, they are pretty close to pre-historic cave paintings in execution and usually depict scenes of human figures engaged in activities like hunting, dancing, sowing ,harvesting, going out, drawing water from well, drying clothes or even dancing.

Warli paintings on paper have become very popular and are now sold all over India. Today, small paintings are done on cloth and paper but they look best on the walls or in the form of huge murals that bring out the vast and magical world of the Warlis. For the Warlis, tradition is still adhered to but at the same time new ideas have been allowed to seep in which helps them face new challenges from the market.


The typical subjects on which Warli Art is done are :

  • Festival
  • Harvest
  • Folk story
  • Celebration
  • Temple Marriage

    The major highlight is these all have people in group dipecting the social life.

    Patterns of Warli Paintings

    It basically consists of geometrical patterns

    Circle: representing the sun and the moon

    Triangle: triangle derived from mountains and pointed trees

    Square: indicating a sacred enclosure or a piece of land. So the central motive in each ritual painting is the square

    These geometric figures are joined together to form beautiful patterns .Like two apex of triangles are joined together to form a human figure.

  • Method of Warli Paintings

    Warli paintings are ancient painting made on the walls . The colours used were not permanent . But the paintings were made again on different occasion .

    Typical Warli Paintings Background colours

    (Warli art with background of two colours)

    Warlis typically use:

  • Henna

  • Indigo

  • Ochre

  • Black

  • Earthy mud

  • Brick red

    But you can always Experiment with background colour. As contrast to typical Warli background try and experiment with vibrant colours.Can even combine two colours to make the background...Just like half red and half black in the Warli above.

    Typical Warli Paintings Material

    Typically Warlis are simply painted on mud, charcoal and cow dung treated surfaces with rice paste for the colour white.

    Make your own Warli Art

    But now people have adapted in modern form which consists of permanent colours .So you can also make one as it is a very simple art form of painting. You Don’t need any specialized knowledge but just a creative mind and artistic flair.. So go ahead

    ( Warli painting In Madhubani style, Warli with inticate work)

    Courtesy of Novica cubist paintings."

    Materials Required

    • Cloth/Handmade paper

    • Trace paper

    • Metallic colours(for cloth)
    • Poster colours (for paper)

    • White poster

    • Carbon sheet

    So let’s start

    Step 1:
    Choose a design

    Step 2:
    First draw the required pattern on the trace paper and copy the design into the cloth/paper using carbon sheet.

    If using Cloth Paint using metallic colours and let it dry well.
    Use Poster colours for paper

    Draw outlines using the white colour and again leave it to dry for 24 hours.

    If applying on cloth iron on the back side of the cloth.

    (Experimenting with Warli art)

    (Warli paintings adding new dimensions to the plain looking Room)

    Tips and tricks

    Warli painting on wall by fabulous Warli artist:Chandakk

  • Experiment with materials. You can get this work done on your bed sheets, saris, dresses, cushion covers and curtains also.

    •Don’t restrain yourself on paper or cloth . Try making a stylish pot ,napkin holder ,lampshades or just give a try …make a bookmark

    First draw the circle and then draw then join them to form a coil with freehand.

    •If applying on wall ,then use apex as base paint

    Combine figures with beautiful patterns like peacock, well, trees etc.

    •If you have a traditional look of your house. These Warlis would look great on wall. A simple corner with pots, chicks and Warli on wall will add new dimensions to your house.

    Add mirrors or colourful threads , if you want that extra shine in your painting .

    Add a border to make it look more attractive

    •If using “geru”as your base ,mix it with linseed oil (or similar media) so that it stays longer

    Hope these would help you. Do share your views and ideas and post your comments on the tag board on the right. Go through the links on the right for collection of Warli art designs.
    If you have want to know about other beautiful form of Indian painting click the links below

    Learn Rangoli
    Learn Madhubani painting
    Learn and find glass painting designs

    But truly Warli Paintings are made in detail but their real beauty lies in their utter simplicity.