Warli Painting - Seeker's Thoughts

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Seeker's Thoughts

A blog for the curious and the creative.

Warli Painting

Warli Painting is one of the most intriguing tribal art forms. Based on basic geographic forms and depicting ritualistic activities of Warli tribe members, its appeal lies in its basic yet engaging compositions.

Jivya Mashe is widely recognized for popularizing Warli tribal art and now finds expression through fashion apparel and home textiles.


Warli paintings were traditionally painted on the walls of their mud houses using white pigment made from rice and gum paste.




Warli paintings depict an array of sacred imagery. Members of this tribe revere numerous nature gods such as Sun and Moon, wind, lightning and rain as deities that should be worshiped; additionally they believe in divine forces of their land and therefore pay their obeisance to Himai, Hirva, Jhoting and Naranadeva as earth goddesses. 


Their daily lives revolve around seasons; thus their paintings reflect these seasonal changes.


Warlis are farmers, so their artwork reflects daily activities such as hunting, fishing, farming and raising trees/animals for food. Furthermore, Warlis also portray various celebrations/festivals/dance forms; an especially intriguing element being the tarpa dance which involves playing an instrument called a trumpet-like trumpet by both men and women within their village communities.


Warli paintings represent another important symbol for them - marriage. But as warli artists have become influenced by other religions such as Christianity and Hinduism, their paintings have undergone noticeable changes over time; most evident in using straight lines instead of the original dotted straight lines that define their original works.




Warli painting depicts the daily experiences and beliefs of tribal communities as well as their association with nature and coexistence between humans and wildlife. Tribes show great respect for their surroundings as these provide essential resources.


Warli paintings frequently depict iconic themes like tarpa dances. These depict men and women dancing a spiral dance to music played on an instrument known as tarpa player's instrument. Other popular warli themes include agriculture, birds and animals, celebrations and village scenes.


Warli artists typically avoided including any religious symbols in their paintings; however, with time they have begun experimenting. This has led to them including elements like bicycles, cars, houses & buildings as well as more modern pieces such as airplanes & trains in their artwork.


Warli art's unique depictions of various rituals like weddings, holi and harvest seasons is another key theme. These vibrant paintings seem to celebrate everyday activities while celebrating them too!




Though Warli art's themes remain traditional, its process is evolving rapidly as its popularity expands in new markets. Artists have explored various techniques to keep up with demand; while some prefer working directly onto mud walls, others use poster colour mixed with glue in order to make paintings more saleable.


Warli painting depicts human figures that represent all aspects of their society: cooking, washing clothes and gathering water and firewood - each playing an essential part in its culture. Their rhythmic movement creates a sense of communal harmony.


Warli paintings depict rituals as another prominent theme, commemorating life with rituals that symbolize how one can find comfort both within nature and humanity.


Artists employ three natural colours in their artwork - white, red and black - made up of rice paste and gum for white; reddish brown comes from Geru plants; the black hue comes from charcoal; while yellow turmeric hues come from Butea Monosperma (Palas) flowers to complete their palette.




Warli paintings feature an appealingly straightforward style paired with their primitive technique. Commonly found on village hut walls to mark events such as weddings or harvests, Warli artists create these ritual paintings using branches, mud, earth and water mixed to form reddish-brown backgrounds upon which they paint white using gum-based rice paste mixed with water; their characters can then be drawn out using pencil outlines before being erased once their work is finished.


Warli tribes respect both inanimate and living objects and thus their paintings are often focused on nature and animal life. Animals such as cows, buffaloes and goats are popular motifs in their artwork alongside trees and flowers.


Warli paintings feature the Chauk, an abstract square representing different elements of nature. It signifies the reverence and admiration for nature that was shared among farmers as part of daily life in Warli villages; as well as worshipping various deities related to it like Pandava-Shiva, Palaghata and Lagnachauk who they also honored through art.




Warli Painting uses simple motifs with minimal appearances that reflect their tribal community's lifestyle of respecting nature & the environment, through activities such as cultivation, celebrations and wildlife-watching. These paintings serve as a reflection of this lifestyle in everyday activities like cultivation celebrations and wildlife watching.


Geometry is an integral component of their pictorial language, often depicting human figures, houses and animals through circles, triangles, dots and crooked lines. Furthermore, geometric forms often serve as references for spiritual beliefs & religious philosophies.


Warli tribe can be found throughout Dahanu, Mokhada, Talasari and Palghar districts along the Sahyadri range, speaking Varli language which now belongs to Konkani family. Thanks to back-to-roots movement these tribal motifs have made an increasingly noticeable statement in home decor and fashion apparel such as kurtas skirts & sarees; be it urban shack or five star hotel lobby these artistic designs add elegance in all environments.

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