A Synopsis on Warli Painting
Not very far from the bustling city of Mumbai, lives a tribe in mountainous and also, coastal areas of Maharashtra, known as the Warli tribe. This tribe takes pride in its roots and follows customs, traditions and a way of life, unlike the contemporary life of the cities around it. The Warli tribe is gifted with a special art, which is identified with them – Warli painting. A form of a folk painting, Warli art is believed to have originated 2000 years ago. It is characterized by the use of basic geometric shapes in white on a rust-orange background, and the patterns it displays rarely fail to pique one’s interest. Since the main occupation of the tribals of Warli has been farming, they have an innate reverence for Mother Nature. The harmony between human beings and nature is generally the central theme of all their artworks, which depict scenes from everyday life. These paintings portray scenes of hunting, fishing and farming, festivals and dances, trees and animals.
Strange Graphics and Material of Warli Art
The conventional way of making intricate Warli paintings required much pre-preparation. To set the background for the paintings, the walls of the huts were first coated with cow-dung, then with earth and finally with the reddish-brown terracotta paste. A paste of powdered rice and gum was prepared and using thin reed like sticks from the Baharu tree as pens, the paintings were created. The Warli paintings are a rhythmic display of geometric shapes like circles, triangles and squares. Though they resemble stick figures, an interesting fact is that there aren’t any straight lines used in Warli art paintings. They are usually crooked lines, dots, circles and triangles.
Symbolism in Warli Painting
Warli painting with its repeated use of symbolic shapes is a visual poetry. Each symbol depicted, has some significance. The circles represent the sun and moon, the triangles represent trees and mountains, square represents sacred land. The central motif in most painting is the square, the chauk; inside which is Palaghata, the mother goddess, symbolizing fertility.
Evolution of Warli Art
Warli began with womenfolk of the tribe who started the trend of painting on clay walls to mark a celebration or an event such as a marriage, harvest festival and the like. Today the men folk practice this art form and use it as a means for earning a living. Since there is a growing demand for the enigmatic art, the Warlis have moved from painting the walls of their homes to making Warli paintings on canvas, paper, crockery, table lamps and fabrics like saris & scarves. Artists have now begun to use more sophisticated tools and have adapted to including colours other than the traditional red-ochre and white. Warli prints have a rustic charm about them which makes them popular in the market, not just in India, but also in the fashion world of other countries.