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warli art


Etymology:  The word ‘Warli’ originates from the word ‘Warla’  which also means ‘a piece of land’. Warli folk art is a type of tribal art that was practised primarily by the indigenous Warli tribe of Maharashtra. 

Origin: Warli art began as a ritual of wall painting. Suvasinis (married women whose husbands are alive) would paint Warli paintings in the homes of the bride and groom as part of the Warli wedding ceremonies.

Location:  The Warli tribal community is situated near the northern region of the Sahyadri Range from the coastal areas along the Maharashtra-Gujarat border. The Warlis also reside in Jawhar, Dahanu, Talasari, Mokhada, Vikramgarh, and other rural areas of Maharashtra, India.

Relevance: Saura art is similar to the Warli art form. Warli and Saura art forms vary in tradition, but share some common motifs and ideas. Both art forms are still practised and artists have adopted contemporary motifs in order to ensure their survival.


Significance:  The roots of Warli art can be traced back to the early 10th AD. According to research, the tribes propagated the tradition that originated between 2,500 B.C. and 3000 B.C. In many ways, Warli paintings resemble the cave paintings made between 5,000 and 10,000 B.C. in the rock shelters at Bhimbetka, Madhya Pradesh.

Culture and Society: Stories, scenarios, subjects, and incidents that are passed down through paintings and word of mouth form the basis of Warli culture. These paintings are painted on the inside walls of the home, usually by married women and young girls of the Warli community.

Religious significance: Generally, Warli art is painted during a wedding or on other religious occasions. These drawings contain symbolic communication with the deities and nature. The Warli community has animistic customs and beliefs and worships the Palaghat Goddess.

Understanding the Art

Style: Human figures are drawn in basic and simple geometrical shapes. Women are identified by their hair bun. The Warli drawing emphasises the linearity of the line. Human faces are circular and the arms and legs are linearly drawn.

Central motifs: In Warli paintings, the circular dance formations are not complete without the mention of the ‘tarpa’ as a musical instrument. Each form of this circle represents the circle of life, representing a basic aspect of tribal culture.

warli painting

(Warli, Warli on the wall: The Warli tribe in Maharashtra’s Ganjad draws from life to create unique art, 18/11/2020, Warli on the wall: The Warli tribe in Maharashtra’s Ganjad draws from life to create unique art – Gaonconnection | Your Connection with Rural India)

New Outlook

Warli art has reached new heights, making its presence on the national and international stage by the talented Indian designers and artists in collaboration with Warli artists.

Anita Dongre unveiled her collections at Lakme Fashion Week Winter Fest 2015 under her grassroots label. Whether it’s colourful umbrellas, coffee mugs and tea cups, rustic wall clocks, accents for walls or stationery – Warli is pretty much everywhere.

Warli Blogs