To an untrained eye, Warli and Saura paintings might look the same at the first glance. However, these two art forms have unique histories and other intricate differences. We at Rooftop help you dive deeper into the world of traditional Indian tribal art. So, keep scrolling to read more about Warli and Saura paintings!

A Brief Introduction to Warli and Saura Paintings

It is quite common to mistake Saura art for its so-called fraternal twin, Warli art. After all, both art forms are tribal pictographs that depict human figures with triangle bodies and stick-like arms and legs. But upon closer inspection, you might notice subtle differences between the two. In Warli paintings, human figures are drawn using two equilateral triangles and they have a visible neck. The characters in Warli paintings are also spread on a two-dimensional plane. On the other hand, human figures in Saura art are more fluid and the canvas is adorned with distinctive decorative borders with rows of human figures and animals. Warli and Saura paintings are easily recognizable and familiar. However, they differ in traditions, ideas, and motifs.

Image Credits: Gujarat Tourism

History of Warli Art

The word “Warli” derives from “Warla,” signifying a piece of land. This art form originates from the tribes of the North Sahyadri Range in India. Warli art is renowned for its elegant and delicate works made primarily of white geometric shapes like dots, lines, triangles, and circles. Until the 1970s, it was considered ritualistic art and was used on the interior walls of homes. It was created only for village wedding celebrations. Traditionally, the majority of these paintings were created by the community’s married ladies and young girls.

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Image Credits: MAP Academy

History of Saura Art

Saura art, on the other hand, comes from the Saura tribe in Orissa. This artistic style is strongly ingrained in the community’s religious practices. The colours used in these paintings are white and red from rice and red earth respectively. Saura artwork includes intricate wall murals and ikons that feature the tribe’s god, the Idital. The purpose of Saura paintings is to please and appease the gods in order to prevent damage and illness from occurring to families. These ikons are also painted to ensure a fruitful harvest or a painless delivery during childbirth.

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Image Credits: Iteeha

Warli and Saura Paintings Today

Traditionally, the subject of Warli paintings has been nature and wildlife. This differs from Saura paintings which were solely religious. These art forms have transformed with changing times to incorporate contemporary motifs to showcase various social acts practised by the communities. Modern-day Warli and Saura art includes icons like buses, cars, and even television! Artists of both these art forms now use acrylic paint and have done away with rice paste for white paint. However, some still use bamboo sticks as paintbrushes. Though the artists have adapted to modern-day techniques for commercialization purposes their work is still rooted in tradition.

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