India is a country with rich heritage and culture. It is home to numerous distinct and enchanting folk art forms. Folk and traditional art open us up to a unique experience of cultural sharing with one another. They provide us with pathways to the discovery of history and heritage. India is home to numerous traditional folk and tribal arts. The most distinctive feature of folk art are the materials and creative techniques used.
Let us look at some of the popular folk-art paintings.
Warli painting is a form of tribal art mostly created by the tribal people from the North Sahyadri range in Maharashtra, India. The word ‘Warli’ is derived from Warla, meaning ‘piece of land’ or ‘field’. The Warli tribe culture revolves around nature and its elements which can be seen easily in their art. These paintings are painted on mud walls and usually depict scenes of human figures engaged in activities like hunting, dancing, sowing, and harvesting. These rudimentary wall paintings use a set of basic geometric shapes: a circle, a triangle, dots, dashes, and squares for depiction. The Warli Art exclusively use a white pigment made from a mixture of rice flour and water mixed with gum, which is then applied to the wall using a bamboo stick chewed at one end to make a supple paint brush. The tribal paintings express various folk imaginations, beliefs, and customs. Scenes like hunting, worship, and surroundings are majorly seen in their paintings.
Madhubani painting is a very old spectacular form of folk art that originated in the Madhubani district of Bihar. It is believed that King Janak, ruler of Mithila Kingdom in the 8th or 7th century had asked to develop these paintings to capture the moments of his daughter Sita’s wedding to Prince Rama. Madhubani paintings are done using colours extracted from nature. The artists extract colours from Henna leaves, marigold, bougainvillea, cow dung, soot and rice powder or lime and other eco-friendly materials. The colours are prepared sourcing them from flowers, leaves, and wild berries. Madhubani is a folk painting done by hands, twigs pen nibs and matchsticks with natural colors and dyes. The raw materials used for this painting are papers, satin cloth, fabric cloth, cotton and cloth. Madhubani paintings evocatively portrays the culture and tradition of India. Bharni, Katchni, Tantrik, Godna and Kohbar are the five distinctive styles of Madhubani painting.
Pattachitra is a traditional painting of Odisha, India. Pattachitra, meaning ‘cloth-picture/painting’ in Sanskrit. These paintings are based on Hindu mythology and inspired by Jagannath and Vaishnava sect. Raghurajpur is famous for Pattachitra paintings. Pattachitra Art was created as an alternative to the statues of Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra, and Subhadra. The colours used in the art of Pattachitra are completely natural. To obtain the colour white, seashells are ground, soaked and heated to obtain a milky paste. Green is made using green leaves and stones, black is prepared by placing an earthen plate over the smoke of a burning wick which is thickened and collected. For Pattachitra painting, the Chitrakars follow a traditional process of preparing the canvas. A gauze-like fine cotton cloth is coated with white stone powder and gum made from tamarind seeds. This makes the canvass ready to accept the paint, made of natural colors. Pattachitra paintings are admired by art lovers across the world.
Kalamkari originated in the modern-day states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana several hundred years ago. It was first used to portray scenes from sacred texts such as the Mahabharata, Ramayana and Bhagavatam. These beautiful Kalamkari prints are created only on pure cotton fabric with hand-carved wooden blocks. Kalamkari artists use only natural pigments to paint. Raw materials such as cotton cloth, dried unripe fruit and milk are used to make the ‘mordant. A total of 23 steps are followed to make the art of Kalamkari come to life. These steps are dyeing, bleaching, hand painting, block-printing, starching, cleaning, fixation and more. Motifs like peacock, flora, and depictions are depicted in these paintings. Kalamkari pen is made of bamboo reed, sharpened at one end and a cloth is rolled on the stick in a particular pattern. A thread is tied around the cotton cloth to secure the cloth at the required place. Cotton cloth acts as filler when dipped in dye and is then used on to the fabric. The colours used in Kalamkari are exquisite earthy tones of reds, blues, greens, yellows, and browns.
Gond paintings are a form of painting from folk and tribal art that is practiced by one of the largest tribes in India. Gond Paintings have their origins in the heart of India, mainly Madhya Pradesh, Gond Art is the folk art of painting practiced by the Gond tribe of the state. Gond Art depicts gods, animals, birds and trees as themes. Local festivals like Karwa Chauth, Deepawali, Ahoi Ashtami, Nag Panchmi and Sanjhi are depicted in these paintings. Natural colors obtained from various sources like flowers, stones, etc. are used to create these beautiful paintings. The most interesting facet of Gond painting is the use of bright colours like white, blue, yellow and red. These colours are extracted naturally from plant sap, leaves, coloured soil, charcoal and even cow dung. According to the Gond belief system, a hill, river, rock or a tree is inhabited by a spirit and hence is sacred. The Gond people paint them as a form of respect and reverence. Gond paintings reflect man’s close connection with his natural surroundings.
Rajput painting, also known as Rajasthani Painting, is a style of Indian paintings that developed and flourished during the 18th century in the royal courts of Rajasthan.
The salient characteristic of this type of painting are the rich and glowing colours.
Long necks and large almond-shaped eyes are some of the features in this style. Mythology, court scenes, hunting scenes, and nature are some of the common themes that are portrayed. The themes of paintings are always inclined to Hinduism and legends like Krishna-Lila, Ramayana, Bhagavata, Devi-Mahatmya, are depicted in the paintings. The colours of this style of painting are handmade and made from vegetables, minerals, indigo, conch shells, precious stones, pure gold and silver. The colors used by the miniature artists were made from minerals, vegetables, precious stones, indigo, conch shells, pure gold and silver. Kishangarh, Pahari, Deccani, Bikaner and Jodhpur are the distinctive styles of Rajasthani paintings. Rajasthani paintings are applauded by art lovers across the world.
The Kannada word Chittara means creating an image or drawing. The artform has been practiced by women of the Deevaru community in the Sagar district of Karnataka. These images were painted on auspicious occasions on the interiors and exteriors of the home. Chittara is an artform in which clay paste is used to create geometric patterns on. the floors and walls of entrances of houses. The paintings are usually 2 – 3 feet in size, aesthetically refined, made of symbols representing their physical environment. They use eco-friendly natural resources like ground rice paste for white colour, roasted rice, yellow seeds, red earth and the brushes.
Tanjore painting is an exquisite traditional art form and has a very rich heritage. This type of painting originated from the town of Thanjavur, also known as Tanjore. Hanging Tanjore paintings is known to bring auspice and good luck to the home.
Tanjore Painting is the only painting to have emboss on it. The painting has areas that are elevated from the surface. The other feature is that real gold foil is used to stick on the embossed areas – 22 carat gold foil is used. A thin layer of the foil is placed on an embossed area and the foil is then cut to shape. The painting is enhanced by using glass beads, semi-precious stones, and other decorative material. The painting is then coloured in and allowed to dry. Tanjore Paintings are a work of creative genius that require passion, perseverance, and perfection by the artist.
Artoreal houses a wide collection of folk-art paintings to mesmerize you. You can check Artoreal for some beautiful folk-art paintings to add memories or a mood to a space. At Artoreal, you can choose from a diverse range of Warli, Madhubani, Pattachitra, Kalamkari, Gond, Rajasthani, Chittara and Tanjore paintings to highlight the walls of your home and create a desired ambience.