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Themes in Warli Art: Moving Beyond Traditional Boundaries to Modern Times



Warli art has a rich cultural heritage deeply rooted in music, art, lifestyle, and living beings. Tribal people from the northern Sahyadri range express their beliefs and culture through self-expressive warli paintings. They are firm believers in the "Tree of Life" and express this theme in their artwork, which is further classified into different themes holding significance in numerous rituals.


Themes


The unique essence of Warli sets it apart from other art forms, and the art can be grouped into multiple sections:


  • Tree of Life The Warli tribe has an unshakable belief in the "Tree of Life," and the entire nature comes from the mother’s womb and will dissolve in her. They respect and preserve the surrounding nature and elements.


  • Deities With the change of seasons, the tribe illustrates different gods and goddesses in their art. Hirva, Himai, Jhoting, and Naranadeva are worshipped during harvest time, and the presiding deity is Palghat, worshipped on all occasions.


  • People The art form focuses on portraying the routine lifestyle and habits of the civilization, like hunting, harvesting, dancing, and sowing.


  • Animals Animals are an integral part of the tribe, distinctly depicted in paintings as providing fodder for cows, pet animals playing with children, and hunting wild animals such as tigers.


  • Rights and Rituals Paintings prominently portray happiness, sorrow, dance, enjoyment, and marriage rituals. The worldview of Warli art is presented in a spiral and an open-ended circle, encouraging us to live in the present situation and enjoy the moment with our near and dear ones.


Themes in Warli Art: Moving Beyond Traditional Boundaries to Modern Times | Truly Tribal
Warli Themes

Salient Features of Warli

Warli paintings showcase daily activities in a spiral form, using basic geometric figures such as circles, squares, dashes, triangles, and dots. The paintings were initially done on walls but now painted on bamboo, cloth, dried bottle gourds, mud pots, and multipurpose artifacts. Earthy colors like brown from mud or cow dung and white from rice paste were used. Since the start of the 20th century, henna, indigo, ochre, black, earthy mud, and brick red colors are used in the background.

Centuries ago, a married woman called Savasini used to do warli paintings. As art forms transform, tribal men and younger kids also paint warli. Jivya Mashe was a Padma Shree Awardee (2011); he gave a new dimension to Warli art and tribal people. Warli is an intriguing art form where small kids or novice artists quickly learn and give a modern touch to the art form. Nowadays, Warli artists depict cricket, trains, aeroplanes, rickshaws, and city life in their paintings. Warli is getting appreciated by everyone, and the artistic touch is applied to modern artifacts like clay pots, office showpieces, and home décor items.


Modern Warli Art

Our firm, Truly Tribal, provides a platform for artists to showcase their talent on different products and lead a decent life. Nowadays, warli artists show the versatility of the art form by depicting cricket, trains, aeroplanes, rickshaws, and city life in their paintings. Warli is getting appreciated by everyone, and the artistic touch is applied to modern artifacts like clay pots, office showpieces, and home décor items. Our firm, Truly Tribal, provides such a platform to artists where they showcase their talent on different products and lead a decent life.




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