Warli Paintings- A Resplendent Art Form Elevating Spaces Since Ages

Warli paintings are probably one of the most gorgeous traditional art forms that originated in India. The intricate white symmetrical shapes and patterns on the muddy red surface are very distinctive to the eyes and tell a story that is rich to its roots.

They have been depicted in the media quite often. Magazines, news documentaries, social media, etc. You might also recognise Warli paintings as part of Coca Cola’s ad campaign which highlighted the ancient culture with the message of togetherness. The campaign was called "Come Home on Deepawali" and specifically targeted the modern youth.


Despite being a major art form of the village community and rituals in Maharastra,  Warli paintings only started getting their worthy recognition in the 1970s when artist Jivya Soma Mashe and his son Balu Mashe when they started painting in that form as their passion. In 2011, Jivya Soma Mashe was awarded Padma Shri for his pioneering work with the Warli art form.

Warli Paintings are intellectual property and are a cultural asset to the Warli tribe, Maharashtra and India as a whole. This is why the tribal non-governmental organization Adivasi Yuva Seva Sangh helped in registering Warli painting with a geographical indication under the intellectual property rights act.  Like these, there are many more fascinating facts about the Warli art form. Shall we take a further look?


The origin of Warli paintings dates back to the 10th century from Warli village in the Thane district of Maharashtra. It was also practised in other regions Dahanu, Talasari, Jawhar, Palghar, Mokhada, and Vikramgadh of Palghar district of Maharastra. Warli paintings prominently depict the social life of the warli tribe, unlike other traditional Indian painting styles which mostly depicts mythological stories of god and goddesses. Warli paintings show a gracious culmination of how the tribe lived in harmony with animals and engaged in folk dance, harvesting, farming, fishing etc. These paintings also had ritualistic significance as they believed they can invoke the power of gods.


Early Adoption

Warli paintings were typically done by the women in the Warli tribe.
They were primarily done on mud walls inside or outside of huts to decorate them. Women also practised this art form on mud utensils, pots as ornamentation. 

Warli paints are made from rice, flour and water with gum as bind. The brush is carved from bamboo sticks by chewing the end of the sticks to give it a brush-like texture. The orangy-red surface is made by rubbing extracts from branches, earth and red brick. 

Basic geometric shapes are quite prominently featured in Warli paintings like a circle, a triangle, and a square. These shapes represent different elements of nature. The circle represents the sun and the moon, while the triangle depicts mountains and conical trees. Humans and animals are depicted as stick figures with inverse triangles forming the upper and lower body.

Modern Practices

Today Warli paintings are done on walls, canvas, paper, ceramic pots, utensils and many more. It has even made its place in the saree and jewellery industry due to its bewitching design. Female, Male artisans all practice this art form. Warli paintings have now evolved into depicting modern stories as well as incorporating modern elements into the art style like cycles, musical instruments, etc.

Nevertheless, the most popular form of Warli art today is Warli wall paintings. Warli wall paintings are hung in household decors, museums, religious sites, cultural buildings and even offices. These out-of-world stunning paintings bring in a rich, joyful, and sense of tradition to places. It also gives an artistic glimpse into the rich traditions of the Warli tribe. Due to these enthralling points, it has quickly become a choice for many interior designers.

Warli paintings are a cultural intellectual property that has been preserved across generations. Many artisans are dependent on this art form and are trying to pass this significant art form into their new generations. Although, Warli Paintings are getting more recognition. We as citizens of India or just a person who appreciates art need to ensure that we keep our rich culture and history alive, by encouraging these artists and their valued art. 

If you want to showcase a piece of this beautiful and rich Indian art form that is Warli paintings at your home or other spaces then head over to Harmonyarts.com to buy them online.