An insight into the world of Warli

Less is more, and that holds true especially for Warli art. The rustic, minimalist yet eye-catching painting style has more to offer than what meets the eye. Here are some facts you wouldn’t know about the art form-

source YouTube
Source: YouTube

The art form originated around 3000 BC

Historians believe the Warli tradition traces back as far as the Neolithic period from 2500 BC to 3000 BC. Women are mainly engaged in the creation of these paintings.

It derives its name from a tribe in Maharashtra

Warli is the name of the largest tribe found on the northern outskirts of Mumbai, in Western India. Despite being in such close proximity of the largest metropolis in India, Warli tribesmen shun all influences of modern urbanization.

source pintrest
Source: Pintrest

They look like stick figures, but are they?

Though popularly known as stick figures, it would be interesting to note that there aren’t any straight lines used in Warli paintings. They are usually crooked lines, dots, circles and triangles. Human and animal bodies are represented by two triangles joined at the tip. Their precarious equilibrium symbolizes the balance of the universe.

Earthy tones

Warli paintings hey 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. This colour is obtained from grounding rice into white powder.

source Thumprinted
Source: Thumbprinted

The sobriety of the painting style is offset by the ebullience of their content

The central motifs of these paintings portray scenes of hunting, fishing and farming, festivals and dances, trees and animals. Apart from ritualistic paintings, other Warli paintings cover day-to-day activities of the village folk. One of the important aspects of most Warli paintings is the “Tarpa dance” – the tarpa is a trumpet-like instrument, which is played in turns by different men. While the music plays, men and women join their hands and move in circles around the tarpa players. This circle of the dancers is also symbolic of the circle of life.


Cover photo courtesy:

One Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s