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Warli: The Impression of Tribal Culture

I love to do artwork and explore the story or theme behind the artwork.


Warli art originated in the North Sahyadri Range in Maharastra, India. It is a tribal art form mostly done by tribal people or Adivasis. It has spread to many cities, including Maharashtra such as Dahany, Talasari, Jawahar, Palghar, and Mokhad.

Anciently, Warli art was made using different geometrical shapes such as triangles, circles, squares, lines, etc. to represent their daily activities. It was done on the walls of Warli houses.

Themes in Warli Paintings

Warli art is mostly illustrated to depict the daily activities of tribes like hunting, fishing, cooking, and traveling. It also expresses the customs, imagination, and beliefs of the Warli tribe.

The themes of Warli art are main festivals, harvesting, folk story, celebration, and marriage.


Meaning of Symbols

Symbols play a vital role in Warli art. Different symbols combined to form a character. When these characters are repeated in a continuous pattern, they form a beautiful painting with a deep meaning.

Here are the basic symbols used in Warli art:

  1. Circle: It is used to represent the celestial bodies like earth, sun, and moon.
  2. Square: The square represents a piece of land. Sometimes it is used to make a base of huts and carts.
  3. Triangle: The triangle represents the hills, mountains, and pointed trees.

Development in Warli Art

As time goes, many changes or improvements can be seen in Warli paintings. It can be changed in symbols, colors, themes, and material. The modern artist invents different techniques to create Warli art.

Let see what are the changes.

  1. Materials: Early Warli art was made on walls but today, it can be made using paper, fabrics, paper, wood, metals, plastic, and much more.
  2. Themes: Warli tribe people utilized art to express basic themes. Nowadays, it is used to depict various themes like office work, city life, etc.
  3. Colour shades: Anciently, only white and red colors were used but with time color shades also changed. You can see Warli art in various colors like blue, black, pink, purple, grey, etc.
  4. Symbols and characters: The rural women used circles, triangles, and lines to make human figures but today modern artist uses various geometrical shapes to create different characters.

Materials Used for This Art

Earlier, rural women used to decorate their house walls and huts with Warli art. They used basic materials to create it. These materials are:

  1. Bamboo paintbrush: They used bamboo sticks as a paintbrush to draw the characters and to fill the colors inside them.
  2. Rice paste and water: To draw and paint the figures, women used white rice paste and water. This is the reason why Warli painting is a combination of red and white.

Today's Products

The demand for Warli art is only increasing, so various manufacturing industries are producing products on earlier themes. These products include sarees, suits, ties, masks, shawls, bangles, necklaces, earrings, rings, photo frames, curtains, sofa covers, paintings, purses, glasses, cups, and plates.

I hope you learned something from this article. Warli art is beautiful and deserves our full appreciation.

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.

© 2021 Arpit Gupta