The last one week has been a crazy one in terms of national economics as well as how occupied have I been. I have been travelling, for my convocation to Delhi and just recreational reasons, and also struggling to get rid of all the old currency notes, sigh.
I have been always inspired by the kind of art our country treasures. So after writing on Kalamkari, I thought let’s explore deeper into what other forms of art exists.
Warli is a type of folk art which originated in India and was developed by the tribal people also known as the “adivasis”. One can find them in the mountainous and even coastal regions of the Maharastra and Gujarat states. They are highly indigenous and prefer living in a close-knit community. With their own traditional beliefs and rituals they went on to create this unique art form which with time has been acknowledged as a form of art. They have their own language also known as the “Varli” and have also accumulated some Hindu customs as part of their beliefs and rituals.
It is believed that the traditional Warli art goes back to the 3000 BC at least. The depiction and style is strikingly similar to the rock paintings which were made back in 10000 BC at the Bhimbetka rock caves in Madhya Pradesh. Extremely monosyllabic in its approach this form of art is very simple and basic in its forming sometimes revolving around just three shapes, a circle, triangle and square. Critics believe that these forms were the minimalist depiction of objects found in nature such as a triangle. They would depict mountains and trees, a circle would symbolize the sun and moon and so on.
Other works would depict scenes from day to day life such as hunting, fishing, festivals, dancing etc. If mostly done in square these paintings would depict some kind of deity in the centre, like a mother goddess who is highly regarded as a symbol of fertility and prosperity amongst the tribes. The art which uses colours is basically made in huts of the people. It goes on to serve some kind of ritualistic purpose. The colours used range from red to ochre shades and comprises of mostly of earthy tones.
Otherwise Warli use only white in painting their art. The colour is made with a mixture of ground rice paste with water and natural gum added with helps in sticking of the paint. Bamboo sticks are chewed at the end to serve as a paint brush. Since this artwork is usually done during some special occasions such as a wedding or harvest, and not on a regular basis, the work is basically crude and unpolished.
But it wasn’t until the late 1970’s that artist Jivya Soma Mashe took this up as a subject along with his son Babu Mashe. They went on to paint in Warli style hence exposing this art to a great number of people and helping it gain the recognition it deserves. Soda giant Coca-Cola took it a step ahead by picking it up for their Diwali ad campaign and helped expose its magnificence to the world.
This art form is a very precious part of our Indian culture and for reasons more important than making profit from it stands in dire need of preservation and cultivation.
Have you explored an art form the world should be knowing about? Tell us in the comments section below!
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