Updated date:

10 Art Forms of India That Have Survived Generations

Author:

Ankita is a passionate fan of art—especially larger-than-life postmodern art installations.

Many different art forms have been practiced in India and some of them have survived through time. Being culturally diverse and distinct, India has a variety of art forms practiced in different parts of the country. Some have evolved over time, adapting to new materials and paint colours, while others have been untouched by modernisation.

Each form of art is unique in its own way and greatly admirable. Traditionally, these art forms existed only in wall paintings or murals. But today, they are also found in canvas, paper, cloth, etc. Here is a list of different Indian art forms, some still in practice and others not.

1. Madhubani Painting

This art is also known as Mithila art, and it originated in the kingdom of Janak in Nepal and in present day Bihar. This art form was not known to the rest of the world until the 1930s, when it was discovered after an earthquake. Mostly practiced by women, these paintings or wall murals depict gods, fauna and flora. Characterised by geometric patterns, this art form is greatly admired for its evocative portrayal of traditions and cultures.

Madhubani Painting

Madhubani Painting

2. Warli Painting

This form of art dates back to 2500 BCE, and it was practiced by the Warli tribes belonging from Thane and Nasik in Maharashtra. These paintings mostly illustrate the nature and social rituals of the tribe. It portrays the daily activities like farming, praying, dancing, hunting, etc. Geometrical patterns in white against a yellow or red background are some of the main themes. Warli paintings were usually made by married women to celebrate a wedding, and they were also used to decorate huts of the Warli tribes.

Warli Painting

Warli Painting

3. Miniature Painting

The miniature paintings illustrate a combination of Indian, Islamic and Persian art styles. This art form dates back to 16th century ,and the themes are usually centred on battles, court scenes, portraits, wildlife, receptions, hunting scenes, legendary stories etc. Natural stone colours are used in a paper-based “wasli” for the creation of these paintings. The miniature paintings have developed into several distinct schools of miniature like Mughal, Rajasthan, Deccan, Kangra, Malwa, Pahadi, etc.

Miniature Painting

Miniature Painting

4. Kalamkari

Having a strong connection to Persian motifs, this art has been in practice for more than 3000 years. Kalamkari derives its name from kalam, or pen, and it means ‘drawings with a pen’. This organic art of hand and block printing has survived generations in Andhra Pradesh. Kalamkari art involves earthy colours like green, rust, indigo, mustard and black. Today this art is used in ethnic clothing, and depicts anything from fauna and flora to epics such as Mahabharata or Ramayana.

Kalamkari

Kalamkari

5. Tanjore Painting

First painted in the 16th century under the Chola regime, this painting originated in the Thanjavur district in Tamil Nadu. It is known for its magnificent embellishments, vibrant colours and rich surfaces. The themes are mainly centred on the Hindu gods and goddesses. These paintings are made on wooden planks, and the main subjects are always painted in the centre. The styles of this painting are similar to that of the Deccani and Maratha art, as well as to the European styles.

Tanjore Painting

Tanjore Painting

6. Pattachitra

Pattachitra art forms date back to 5th century and originated in Odisha and West Bengal. These cloth-based scroll paintings have a heavy influence of the Mughal era. Admired by art lovers, the Pattachitra paintings are dedicated to religious and mythological themes. The painters mainly use bright colours like red, black, indigo, yellow and white in this type of painting. From palm leaves to silks, this art form has gained recognition and is practiced even today.

Pattachitra

Pattachitra

7. Gond Painting

A native art form of Madhya Pradesh, Gond paintings are mostly themed on animals and birds. Practised by the Gond tribes, this art form is believed to be 1400 years old. Natural colours derived from plant sap, charcoal, coloured soil, cow dung, leaves, etc. are used to make this type of paintings. This simple art form created with dots and lines were made as an offering to Mother Nature in earlier days.

Gond Painting

Gond Painting

8. Kalighat Painting

This form of painting originated in the 19th century in Bengal. These paintings were made on cloth or patas and often depicted images of gods, goddesses and scenes from epics. This simple yet captivating form of art became popular due to their way of capturing the everyday lives beautifully. The seamless, free-flowing outline is a unique feature of the Kalighat paintings. This style of paintings has been an inspiration to many artists since their creation.

Kalighat Painting

Kalighat Painting

9. Phad

Dating back to thousands of years, Phad is a narrative scroll painting tradition which originated in Rajasthan. Red, yellow and orange colours are mostly used in this type of art to paint stories of local deities and heroes. The depictions are usually of battlefield scenes, adventure stories, legendary romances, etc. The beauty of these paintings lies in the fact that many stories are accommodated in a single composition.

Phad

Phad

10. Cheriyal Scrolls

This form of art originated in present-day Telangana and has been practised by the Nakashi family through generations. The Kalamkari art influenced the creation of the Cheriyal scrolls. The scrolls are generally 40–45 feet in length, and the themes are mainly centred on Indian mythology and folk traditions. These types of paintings are made with bright hues, with red as a dominating background. The colours are extracted from natural sources by the artists, and the brushes are made with squirrel hair.

Cheriyal Scrolls

Cheriyal Scrolls

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Comments

Ankita B (author) on September 07, 2020:

Thank you FlourishAnyway for your lovely comments. I am glad you found this article informative and enjoyed reading it.

FlourishAnyway from USA on September 07, 2020:

I enjoyed learning about and viewing this art. I had seen some of these styles previously but didn’t know anything about it.

Ankita B (author) on September 07, 2020:

I appreciate your kind comments Vandna. Thank you very much for reading and commenting.

thoughtsprocess from Navsari (India) on September 06, 2020:

Hi Ankita,

This is informative and interesting article. Thank you so much for sharing.

Ankita B (author) on September 06, 2020:

Thank you very much Linda for your lovely comments which are always appreciated. I am delighted that you loved reading this.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on September 06, 2020:

The art is lovely. Thank you for sharing the interesting information about the different art forms, Ankita.

Ankita B (author) on September 06, 2020:

I appreciate your kind comments Prithviraj. Thank you very much for reading and commenting.

Ankita B (author) on September 06, 2020:

Thank you so much Danny for your generous comments. Yes I have heard of the Batik art too. I am glad that you enjoyed reading this.

Prithviraj Shirole from India on September 06, 2020:

I was unaware of so many amazing art forms. Ankita, thanks for sharing beautiful paintings and their information.

Danny from India on September 06, 2020:

Ankita fantastic research. One more art that caught my attention was the Batik art. This art form is prevalent in Indonesia and India too. it's a delicate and detailed art form that requires utmost precision.

Overall I liked your article. You have been very thorough.

Ankita B (author) on September 06, 2020:

Thank you James for your kind comments. I appreciate your comments and your visit.

Ankita B (author) on September 06, 2020:

I truly appreciate your generous comments Eric. Thank you very much for reading and commenting.

James C Moore from The Great Midwest on September 06, 2020:

I really like the visuals. This article was a pleasure to look at. Also, nice to get historical background on the various types of art.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on September 06, 2020:

Really cool. The was a great read and illustrations. Wow, what fantastic art. Thank you.

Ankita B (author) on September 06, 2020:

Thank you very much Lorna for your lovely and encouraging comments. I am so glad that you liked reading this article.

Lorna Lamon on September 06, 2020:

This is an interesting and well structured article and I was intrigued by the various art forms depicted in your article. The 'Miniature Paintings' are stunning as are many of the other art forms which have survived for generations. This was an enjoyable and informative read Ankita.

Ankita B (author) on September 06, 2020:

Thank you Liz for your encouraging words. I am delighted that you enjoyed reading this article.

Liz Westwood from UK on September 06, 2020:

This is a well-organised, interesting and very well-illustrated article. I had no idea tgat there were so many varieties on ancient art forms in India.

Related Articles