PRESENTATION- Ethnicity and Artistic Production Warli folk paintings are paintings of Maharashtra.

Warli is the name of the largest tribe found on the northern outskirts of Mumbai, in Western India. The word “Warli” comes from “warla” which means a piece of land or a field. So often we see the depiction of natural beauty and tradition in this art form. Yashodhra Dalmia in her review points out that all strands of Warli culture discuss the ritual cycle of the year with all its festivals. Hence, more than depicting mythological characters, they depict social life. Images of human beings and animals, along with scenes from daily life are created in a loose rhythmic pattern. Painted white on mud walls, they depict scenes of human figures engaged in activities like hunting, dancing, sowing ,harvesting, drawing water from well, drying clothes or even dancing showing a vivid expression of daily and social events. Made with rice paste, each painting has a different purpose: to assuage evil spirits, protect the inhabitants of the house and also celebrate births, marriages, and good harvests.

While men and women are depicted in almost identical fashion, the only differentiator is the little knot of hair in the form of a bun that indicates women. Their precarious equilibrium symbolizes the balance of the universe, and of the couple.

Warli Paintings can be recognized by the fact that they are painted on an austere mud base using one color, white, with occasional dots in red and yellow. The white pigment is a mixture of rice paste and water with gum as a binding agent. Traditionally, when painting the mud walls, they use a bamboo stick chewed at the end, to make it work like a paintbrush.

The Tribal values the sense of uniformity and the close social interactions with nature and the spirits is what makes the Tribal who they are.

Explaining a few paintings will make the idea more clear-

This is a riverside tribal habitat. Creatures in the river water are clearly visible. This is typical of the tribal art because of their love for flora and fauna. The river is seen originating in the mountains, animals and x-rayed dens can also be seen. Sun God is providing energy; women are

seen engaged in cooking, pounding rice, drawing water from a well while a man is mending his bullock cart. The holy tree in the centre is „kalpwriksh‟ that symbolizes prosperity. K. Prakash in his book “Warli Paintings: Traditional and Folk Art from India” stated that Nature plays a crucial part in Warli livelihood and are given careful attention. Different varieties of trees are drawn forming intricate decorative patterns. Animals are also shown to be in action giving the painting vibrancy and movement.

The Warli art is also referred to as X ray where happenings inside the huts and dens are visible from the outside, the genesis of which was telling the people that people lived in caves which had no front wall.

This is the painting of a goddess who is worshipped on marriage occasions. The spiritual goddess has four hands and many fingers symbolizing the super divine power. Offerings like hair comb, musical instruments, ladder etc are made to the goddess whose blessings are sought to the couple.

A typical Warli side habitat where people are seen engaged in their daily activities, co-existing harmoniously with animals and other creatures around. We can notice the x-ray huts here as well where the happenings inside are visible. Also, the Sun-God with a human face which is symbolic of providing the people with energy to start their day. We can see the moment of celebration as the people are dancing in circles. It also seems as if the dance is being performed in front of and for the Sun-God who is the reason of their happiness.

This is another painting of celebration where people are acknowledging the almighty for the rich harvest. Couples playfully dance in rings of circles to the blowing of „tarpa‟ (that is a musical horn made of dried pumpkin). Idea of celebration holds great importance for Warli art. For the tribals, life is an eternal circle. Death is not the end as much as it is a new beginning. Hence circles best represent the art of Tribal, which has neither an end nor a beginning. These paintings express various folk imaginations, beliefs and customs. Also, trees, birds, men and women collaborate to create a composite whole in Tribal Paintings. These paintings with traditional themes are still a big draw, both domestically and internationally.

A lot of merchandise - T-shirts, coasters, linen come with Warli designs and motifs and do brisk sales through exhibitions and tourist outlets. You will find Warli paintings on walls of some hotel rooms (like in the fallowing picture)

And people also decorate their room with Warli art to make it more attractive:

Taking into consideration a more recent example, we can look at the commercials of coca cola. Coca cola has always kept one eye on the ethnic nuances, hence it has used the archetype Indian family to promote the similar “coke values” which is amplified in the festive seasons such as the run-up to Diwali when people visit their homes to be with their family. Their logo was “come home this Diwali” and they highlighted their idea of togetherness through Warli paintings.

Warli Paintings thus explain how ethnicity highly influences an art form. Warli art completely represents the Indian ethnicity and further spreads it not only in India but all over the world.

Bibliography Warli Paintings: Traditional Folk Art from India

Dalmia, Yashodhra: The painted world of the Warlis. Art and ritual of the world

Ann, Mary; Lutzker, Milford: Intersections: Urban and Village Art in India

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful