Warli

Warli, a tribe in the foothills of the Western Ghats, means “piece of land” or “fields”. Its art comprises of graphic representation of farming, animal rearing, moving around, drawing water from wells, worship of nature in myriad avatars and celebrations especially the marriage.

The near rudimentary graphics like circle represents the sun and the moon and the triangles depict the human form.  It is done through simple folk symbols drawn with bold, easy strokes with minimal colors. Human and animal bodies are represented by two triangles joined at the tip, the upper triangle depicts the trunk and the lower one the pelvis. This unstable equilibrium symbolizes the balance of the universe.  A head, arms and legs are added to both the forms and the women are distinguished by a bouffant (bun) at the back of their heads. The innocence of Warli is evident from the absence of proportions.

The Warlis through their paintings tell stories and folklores passed on in their culture. They are not epic writers, rather they try to capture a “slice of life”. Close harmony with the nature finds it’s expression in its art. Traditionally Warli paintings depict a normal work day, around the hamlets of thatched mud huts painted in the centre. The repetition of figures gives a sense of rhythm and harmony along with continuity. What originated as a domestic ritual of ceremonial beautification is now revered as a folk art.

A tribal art form painted by the tribals living in the foothills of the Western Ghats Maharashtra and border areas of Andhra Pradesh. My further research  in this field revealed that this art form started sometime in the 10th century AD but became popular with the modern india after the 1970’s.