Warli - Prints That Tell a Story

Greatly inspired by the rustic life lead by the village folk, the Warli art form reflects traditional themes of flora and fauna. For them, it's a way of storytelling - a story of their lives, and their community, living in harmony with nature. 

The Warlis or Varlis are an indigenous tribe living in mountainous as well as coastal areas of Maharashtra-Gujarat border. This art form, practiced primarily by women, depicts scenes from their daily life. 

The style of Warli painting was not recognised until the 1970s, even though the tribal style of art is thought to date back as early as 10th century A.D. In 1970, this ritual art took a radical turn when Jivya Soma Mashe and his son Balu Mashe started to paint. They painted not for ritual purposes, but because of their artistic pursuits. Jivya is known as the modern father of Warli painting. 

The paintings often consist of the sun and moon, which are the essential deities of the Warli tribe. The central motif is a square, known as the "chalk" or "Shaukat", mostly of two types known as Devchauk and Lagnachauk. Inside a Devchauk is usually a depiction of Palaghata, the mother goddess, symbolizing fertility. The central motif is surrounded by scenes portraying hunting, fishing, and farming, and trees and animals. Festivals and dances are also common scenes depicted in the ritual paintings. This art form rarely uses straight lines. Instead, they use dots and dashes on white, cream, red, and ochre backgrounds.

Once a simple painting technique of a small Indian tribe, the ancient art of Warli is now one of the most recognised Indian arts.