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Folk Art Paintings have various types with some being done on cloth or fabric, leaves or wood, in the caves. Even in the form of paintings on the ground that we commonly refer to as rangoli in Indian culture. As the name suggests Folk Art always depicts or portrays folklores and stories. It revolves around Hindu Gods and Goddesses and sometimes even planetary gods like Sun, moon and earth. Some folk art paintings also portray the lifestyle of the tribes who invented them. Or the royal day-to-day activities of the royal court embellished with gems and gold.

Let us have a look at the types of folk art paintings. They have somehow survived the crucial times and can be saved with a little effort on your end:


Both of these paintings have one thing in common. That is they are both made on Cloth based scrolls and narrate folk stories. But what differs is the regions and the practices that are involved in making them. While the Pattachitra painting originates from the tribes of West Bengal and Odisha, Phad paintings come from Rajasthan. And hence the cultural context in both of these changes.

Pattachitra paintings are made by Odiya Chitrakaars and Patua of Bengal. They narrate stories of Deities. It uses completely organic and naturally made colours in vibrant shades.

While Phad Paintings also depict deities, what’s unique to them is they also narrate tales of brave heroes and kings. Made on Khadi Fabric, the Phad paintings also use vibrant colours. It narrates stories of heroes like Prithviraj Chauhan, Amar Singh Rathore, etc. A smaller version of Phad paintings is known as a Phadakye. It uses water, gum, and indigo to make the desired colours and use them for painting.


These paintings are made on teak wood or wood from jackfruit trees. They require some of the most expensive materials to make them. Make use of real gold foil work, gemstones that are both semi-precious, and mirror work to a large extent. They depict Gods and Goddesses painted intricately with lots of detailing in the work. You can find Tanjore paintings in temples and royal households and palaces of Tamil Nadu even today.


Madhubani Art was originally just used as home decor. By farmers and villagers of the Mithila district of Bihar and Jharkhand state. However, due to famines, they had to shift from agriculture to other sources of income. Thus they began painting on satin clothes, canvases, etc. Madhubani paintings depict day-to-day life, nature, Hindu social events, Royal scenes, etc. The colours are also extracted naturally from flowers, fruits, etc and black is made by mixing cow dung and soot. Madhubani paintings are famous across the globe. 


Both of these paintings are types of tribal folk art that are a crucial part of the tribe’s culture & identity. The Gond tribe is the largest tribal community in India. While the Bhil tribe is the second-largest right after the Gond Tribe. The Gond tribe uses mystery and humour in their folk paintings. Gond Paintings depict nature, day-to-day life, and mythology. On the other hand, the Bhil tribe makes the Bhil folk paintings. This art form originates from 4 states of India- Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Maharashtra. Similar to Warli painting the tribe paints on the walls of their homes. They use a lot of dots to make their paintings.


Originates from Maharashtra and is seen on the walls of tribal households. These paintings make use of stick-figured humans that depict social events, everyday life, nature, and many other things. Warli painting is also found on fabrics, and clay artifacts. The Malkhar Koli Tribe of Maharashtra takes immense pride in Warli paintings. You can find these paintings on their walls even today.

While these are only a few folk art paintings that we commonly find today, there are many more that are missing from the public eye and are not getting the attention they deserve. Now that we know what types and forms of folk art paintings exist in India, the question arises- how can we contribute to saving these folk art paintings? The answer is simple- buy these paintings and art forms.

If you want to create more such marvellous art forms, you can take up traditional art workshops and learn about these art paintings on the Rooftop app. Download the app and book some of our latest workshops on Indian art.

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