Warli Paintings

Warli tribal paintings are traditionally done by an indigenous tribe called the Warlis who live in the Maharashtra-Gujarat border area.  Warli mural paintings are believed to date as far back as 3000 BC. Originally painted on hut walls with rice paste and gum to mark occasions like weddings or harvests , the artists have now moved on to ink and acrylic on paper and canvas. In the 1970s, this predominantly ritual art form was popularised again by the national and international recognition of Jivya Soma Mashe, an exceptional artist of this form.

These monosyllabic paintings use a very basic graphic vocabulary – a circle, a triangle, a square, or a spiral. The circle and triangle come from their observation of nature, the circle representing the sun and the moon, the triangle derived from mountains and pointed trees. The square seems to be indicating a sacred enclosure or a piece of land. So the central motive in each ritual painting is the square, known as the "chauk" or "chaukat", mostly of two types: Devchauk and Lagnachauk. Inside a Devchauk, we find Palaghata, the mother goddess, symbolizing fertility. Significantly, male gods are unusual among the Warli and are frequently related to spirits which have taken human shape. The central square or spiral motif is surrounded by scenes portraying hunting, fishing, farming, festivals, dances, trees and animals. Human and animal bodies are represented by two triangles joined at the tip - the upper triangle depicting the trunk and the lower triangle the pelvis - their precarious equilibrium symbolizing the balance of the universe. Strokes, lines and a mass of dots swarm on the canvas to reinforce the sense of vibration in life and movement.  Warlis speak to us of ancient cultures and evoke an ancestral connection.

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