• Warli Painting is of tribal art mostly created by the tribal people from the North Sahyadri Range in Maharashtra.
    • This range encompasses cities such as Dahanu, Talasari, Jawhar, Palghar, Mokhada, and Vikramgad of Palghar district.
  • This tribal art was originated in Maharashtra, where it is still practiced today.
    • Its roots can be traced to as early as the 10th century A.D. It was traditionally practiced by women. 
  • The Warli culture is centered on the concept of Mother Nature and elements of nature are often focal points depicted in Warli painting.
    • Farming is their main way of life and a large source of food for the tribe. They greatly respect nature and wildlife for the resources that they provide for life.
  • Warli artists use their clay huts as the backdrop for their paintings, similar to how ancient people used cave walls as their canvases.
  • Jivya Soma Mashe, the artist in Thane district has played a great role in making the Warli paintings more popular.
Warli Painting
Warli Painting

Painting technique

  • These paintings are mainly dominated by basic geometric shapes like circles, triangles and squares.
  • These geometric shapes stand as a symbol of natural elements in our environment.
  • The circle and the triangle come from their observation of nature. The circle represents the sun and the moon, while the triangle depicts mountains and conical trees.
  • In contrast, the square renders to be a human invention, indicating a sacred enclosure or a piece of land.
  • The central motif in each ritual painting is the square, known as the “chauk” or “chaukat”, mostly of two types known as Devchauk and Lagnachauk.
    • Inside a Devchauk is usually a depiction of palghat, the mother goddess, symbolizing fraternity.

Theme of Warli Paintings

  • Male gods are unusual among the Warli and are frequently related to spirits which have taken human shape.
  • The central motif in the ritual painting is surrounded by scenes portraying hunting, fishing, and farming, and trees and animals. Festivals and dances are common scenes depicted in the ritual paintings.
    • People and animals are represented by two inverse triangles joined at their tips: the upper triangle depicts the torso and the lower triangle the pelvis.
      • Their precarious equilibrium symbolizes the balance of the universe. The representation also has the practical and amusing advantage of animating the bodies.
  • Another main theme of Warli art is the denotation of a triangle that is larger at the top, representing a man; and a triangle which is wider at the bottom, representing a woman.
    • Apart from ritualistic paintings, other Warli paintings covered day-to-day activities of the village people.
  • One of the central aspects depicted in many Warli paintings is the tarpa dance.
  • Warli art records important events and transmits local stories pictorially. The religious imagery shifted to narratives of tribal lives, values and self-expression. 
    • This art form has also helped tribals to reflect upon social injustices caused by the systems of power imbalances
Warli Paintings

Materials used

  • The ritual paintings are usually created on the inside walls of village huts.
  • The walls are made of a mixture of branches, earth and red brick that make a red ochre background for the paintings.
  • The Warli only paint with a white pigment made from a mixture of rice flour and water, with gum as a binder. A bamboo stick is chewed at the end to give it the texture of a paintbrush.
  • Walls are painted only to mark special occasions such as weddings, festivals or every thing harvests.
Warli Tribe
  • They are an indigenous tribe or Adivasis, living in the Mountainous as well as coastal areas of Maharashtra-Gujarat border and surrounding areas.
    • The word ‘Warli’ is derived from the word ‘Warla,’ which means ‘piece of land’.
  • They speak an unwritten Varli language which belongs to the southern zone of the Indo-Aryan languages.
  • They believe in animism and worship nature spirits and ancestors. They use painting to depict their traditional way of life, customs, and traditions. 
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments