This is one of the oldest art forms of India evolved by the Warli tribes from the Western Ghat of India, in 2500 BCE .The style of Warli painting was not recognised until the 1970s, even though the tribal style of art is thought to date back as early as 10th century A.D.
The Warli culture is centered around the concept of Mother Nature and elements of nature are often focal points depicted in Warli painting. Warli artists use their clay huts as the backdrop for their paintings, similar to how ancient people used cave walls as their canvases.
Geometric shapes in Warli painting
These rudimentary wall paintings use a set of basic geometric shapes: a circle, a triangle, and a square. These shapes are symbolic of different elements of nature.
The circle and the triangle come from their observation of nature. The circle represents the sun and the moon, while the triangle is derived from mountains and pointed trees. In contrast, the square appears 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 “chalk” or “Shaukat”, mostly of two types known as Devchauk and Lagnachauk. Inside a Devchauk is usually a depiction of Palaghata, the mother goddess, symbolizing fertility.
Themes of Warli paintings
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.
One of the central aspects depicted in many Warli paintings is the tarpa dance. The tarpa, a trumpet-like instrument, is played in turns by different village men.
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 paste 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 or harvests.
GI (Geographical Indication) Status
Warli paintings have been accorded the coveted GI (Geographical Indication) status.