Introduction to Warli

Warli Painting

The Warlis are one of the largest tribes settled on the northern outskirts of Mumbai in Maharashtra and also in Gujarat in Western India. The Warli art is a representation of their culture. It is not an art form, but a way of life for them. The art was first explored in the early seventies.
Like other tribal art, this art, too, was born out of the creativity that the Warli people expressed on the walls of their houses. The Warli people painted their houses in vivid styles depicting elements that represent their culture and traditions. The paintings were mainly done by the tribeswomen.
The unique and most important aspect of Warli paintings sets it apart from other painting styles in that it depicts the social life of the tribe rather than mythological characters or images of deities. The subject of Warli paintings is always human beings and animals, along with scenes from daily life which are created in a loose rhythmic pattern. Another unique characteristic of this art form is that it uses geometric shapes for creating designs and patterns, which shows that the tribe leads their lives with a sense of discipline.
Warli paintings are usually painted using white color on the mud walls. Basic materials are used by the tribe for painting; like rice paste with water and gum for the white paint and a bamboo stick that has been chewed on that serves as a brush. Beautifully executed, the paintings resemble pre-historic cave paintings in their style and usually depict human figures engaged in activities like hunting, dancing, sowing, and harvesting. Traditionally, this painting is done on a red ochre background with white paint and these were the only two colors used for creating paintings. However, over time, a variety of colors started being used to replicate these artistic motifs on fabrics, home decor, or other artistic forms.