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Warli Art: a trivialized traditional art

India is known for its sundry of cultures from every nook and corner of the sub-continent, each culture blooming with its own essence. Because of this culturally blooming environment, every culture has developed its own unique identity and formed its own arts and traditions. These arts and traditions become a trademark of sort for that culture. In this huge congregation of cultures in the Indian subcontinent, there is a tribal art that has emerged to gain a recognition in the whole wide world. This tribal art id Warli paintings.

Warli paintings are well known in the state of Maharashtra, the Varli tribe who are famous for these warli paintings reside on the outskirts of Mumbai district. Warli paintings are distinctive with their vivid contrast expressions. The painting is made on red mud wall with white paint, and this white paint is made from grounding rice into a white powder. These paintings are mainly dominated by basic geometric shapes like circles, triangles and squares. These geometric shapes stand as a symbol of natural elements in our environment. For example, the circles represent the sun and moon, the triangles represent the mountains and the squares are considered as the central motifs of the painting. The central motif i.e. the square has two types – Devchauk and Lagnachauk. People and animals are represented by two inversed triangles joined together, where the upper triangle is the torso and the lower triangle is the pelvis. These inversed triangles meeting at a point shows the balance of the universe. 

Warli art was actually the only medium of expression for the Warli tribes before. With almost no literacy, there weren’t any written texts to transmit the folklore to future generations. They use vivid paintings on huge walls to narrate stories of the daily or social life of the Varli tribe. Warli art does not depict mythological legends through their paintings, but they embellish their walls with beautiful paintings of the daily societal behaviours of the tribe in their natural habitats such as farming, a celebration of marriage, fishing and such as. They usually have a particular type of painting called the “tarpa dance”, where the people are having a celebration by dancing in a circle. It is said that this circle represents the circle of life. 

History of Warli Art

Warli paintings were not very well represented in the Indian tribal art until the 1970s. There is no actual evidence of the origin of this art, but it dates back to the 10th century AD. You can see this ancient proof in the motifs of this painting. All these motifs have a distinct similarity to the pre-historic cave paintings. Since the beginning of this eccentric contrast wall paintings, Warli always focused on depicting the social life of the tribe. The common theme of Warli that we have seen from its discovery is the modest red mud-plastered walls with quirky illustrations of white paints. 

Warli Art in Recent years

Warli paintings, even though was discovered recently decades ago, has not gained much recognition among this generation. The Varli tribe face many barriers because of this lack of recognition for their art and thus get less basic supplies. 

Although recently in 2016, a group of Japanese artists adopted the village of Ganjag from Thane district. It is said that this village has the most population of the Varli tribe. They adopted this village to save this fading art. They provide the whole village good supplies for the basic utilities in the daily life of the Varli tribe. This group of artists also built new huts in their region, thus giving them fresh canvases to practise their art. 

How can you support Warli Art?

Social Media holds a huge monopoly in our daily life than we actually think. We see posts of people travelling around and we make plans to visit that place, we see videos of people making art pieces and we try to imitate them. Thus, one who is on social media indirectly holds huge power. Thus, if we post content related to Warli paintings on our social media handles we can raise enough awareness for people for the Varli tribe to gain some recognition. 

Nowadays, you can find home decoration articles, clothing pieces and articles with warli print on them. You can use these items to bring a more rustic feel to your home, or you can change your style by spicing up your daily looks with the quirks of warli prints. We can buy these items for the sake of aesthetics as well as give the Varli tribe some recognition for their notable artworks. 

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Written by Vaishnavi Nagwekar

Vaishnavi is a travel enthusiast and a binge connoisseur. She is currently pursuing a degree in Mass Media. She has a passion to pen down her experiences when she travels to share with world and also to write down critical analysis of movies and series she binged last weekend. Being a Gen Z Zoomer, she has achieved a lot of karmas on Reddit and loves music that can speak to your soul, even if its a rap.

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