Introduction Warli Paintings Are Folk Paintings From Maharashtra and Are

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WarliIntroduction Warli paintings are folk paintings from Maharashtra and are very different from other folk and tribal paintings in India. They do not narrate mythology in primary colours as did the Madhubanis nor did it contain the robust sensuality of the paintings found in Eastern India. Instead they are painted on mud, charcoal, cowdung based surface using only white colour, and are decorated with series of dots in red and yellow. History and Religion Warli is the name of a tribe, which resides in Thane district of Maharashtra on the northern outskirts of Mumbai and extends up to the Gujarat border. They are spread out in the villages named Dahanu, Talasari, Mokhada, Vada, Palghara and several other parts of the district as well. The origin of the warlis is yet unknown and no records of this art are found, but many scholars and folklorists believe that it can be traced to as early as tenth century A.D when man learnt to build walls of the house. This art was eventually discovered in the early seventies, and became popular for its unique simplicity and fervor for life. The warlis were originally hunters but today they are farmers and work according to the monsoon. Thus their paintings are also influenced by the seasonal cycle as their life around them is directly reflected in the paintings. Tr aditionally, only women practiced this art form on the interior walls of their mud houses. Since at that time rice was most easily accessible, they used the colour white, which was made from ground rice flour. As time passed by, the men have also begun to paint. To understand and enjoy the paintings of Warlis, one should know their religion, their rituals and see life from their perspective. As the life of warlis link closely with nature, they worship the nature in different forms Sun and moon, god of thunder, lightning, wind, rain, and several others. Gods are worshiped according to the seasons. In the coming of the first rice they worship the god of rain and its called the festival of Naranadeva. This is then followed by the worship of household gods, in the festival of Hirva, Himai, Jhoting and Naranadeva. Next is the festival of Tiger God, and then is Kansari, the goddess of grain, and finally the marriage rituals take place, and this time the deity of fertility, Palghata, is worshipped. For the Warlis, life is cyclic repeating it eternally. Circles best represent the art of warli, which has neither an end nor a beginning. At all occasions birth, marriage, and death they draw circles, symbol of Mother goddess. Death is not the end for them; rather it is a new beginning. Similar to their religious beliefs the warli paintings carry this circular and spiral movement that gives an everlasting joy. Warli Paintings Usually the warli paintings are done during the marriage ceremony and they call them as Lagnace citra meaning marriage paintings. The painting i s very sacred and without it the marriage cannot take place. The warlis who are simple and happy in nature also include life around them in their paintings because they express everything they see, feel, and believe in life. We find animals, trees, birds, plants, houses, and men in their paintings and they form a loose, rhythmic pattern on the entire surface. Their respect for nature is from the most gigantic to the smallest creature and plant.NFSC Public Programme November 2000 1

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When looked closely, they have a light singing and swirling movement, describing their daily activities. The figures and traditional motives are very repetitive and highly symbolic. These paintings form a bridge between themselves and the outside world. They communicate through their paintings and their life style and passion for nature are depicted beautifully! Triangular humans and animals with stick-like hands and legs, and geometrical designs with rows of dots and dashes are drawn on the mud walls of the huts of Warlis. In warli paintings it is very rare to see a s t raight line. A series of dots and dashes make one line. The artists have recently started to draw straight lines in their paintings. The use of space in a warli painting is very fascinating. From the depths of the painting spring a variety of activities with human, animals, and trees. A multiplicity of events takes place simultaneously, and the perspective changes when the baseline of the painting is drawn. Though painted on a flat and muddy surface, it gives us a three-dimensional effect as if the world of Warlis became alive in front of us. Subjects: Warli paintings have various subjects or themes, which depict a story from their daily activities. Each painting has numerous elements giving a vast panoramic view. The subjects found in these paintings are wedding scenes, various animals, birds, trees, men, women, children, descriptive harvest scene, group of men dancing around a person playing the music, dancing peacocks, and many more. The most famous warli painting is the marriage chauk a painting made at the time of marriage. The warli women called Savasini meaning married women whose husbands are alive, paint a chauk or a square on their walls of their kitchen as they believe they are the most sacred walls in the house where the gods are placed. Before starting to paint, these walls are first plastered with cowdung and the most important part of the wall is coated with geru or red mud. On this a decorative chauk is made and in the center is placed goddess Palaghata, as she has to be present for the wedding. She is widely known as MotherGoddess. In most of the paintings she is without a head and a human figure. The word Palaghata explains that she represents the over-flowing pot with plants and is the goddess of fertility. The space around the chauk is filled with dotted trees providing shade to the goddess, animals, and men doing various activities like dancing, playing music, climbing trees, carrying loads, or just standing with their limbs flying in the air. Beside the main chauk a smaller chaukis drawn for the god Pancairiya, and its called the deva chauk who look after the family. This painting is indispensable during the marriage ceremony. Warli Art as seen today Warlis worshipped their paintings and never imagined to commercialise them until twenty five years ago when the people of India discovered them. The warli paintings are liked instantly because it is so alive that one can almost feel the activities and hear the trumpets, drumbeats and songs of these little people. Today small paintings are done on cloth and paper, but they still look best on the walls or murals bringing out the vast and magical world of Warlis. In the course of our fieldwork we met Kusam Shyam Karpade and Reena Santhya Umbersada, warli artists from Thane district, Maharashtra and realised how contented they were with their art. They cannot separate themselves with the paintings and it plays a vital role in their lives. Life in the Warli tribe is shown very creatively. With pure imagination and simple depiction, their

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paintings bring an air of authenticity. When asked about the changes in their artistic t radition, they were glad that their art is greatly appreciated and as long the art form is maintained, changes are welcome. Their goal is to preserve this art and make it known to the world. Acknowledgements We are grateful to Mr. Siddarth Kak, Director, Cinema Vision India, for making it possible to meet the Warli artists. We are extremely g rateful to Father Adrian and Mr. Ajay Dandekar, for sending the Warli artists to Chennai exclusively for the workshop. We are also thankful to Ms. Rajkumari Asthana for providing us with research materials for the brochure. Exhibition cum sale of Warli paintings by the artists at Lalit Kala Academy, 170 Greams Road, Chennai-600006. Tel / Fax: 044 8277692 Dates: 17-18, November 2000 Time: 11.a.m 7p. m Bibliography Dalma, Yashodhara, 1988, The Painted World of the Warlis, New Delhi: Lalit Kala Akademi Jain, Jotindra , 1 9 8 4 , Painted Myths of Creation. Art and Ritual of an Indian Tribe, New Delhi Jayakar, Pupul, 1981, The Earthen Drum, An Introduction to The Ritual Arts of Rural India, New Delhi Kapur, Sohaila, 1983, Pictorial Space, New Delhi Kosambi, D. D, 1 9 6 2 , Myth and Reality. Studies in the Formation of Indian Culture, Bombay K ramrisch, Stella, 1968, Unknown India: Ritual Art in Tribe and Village, Philadelphia

W a r l i wor k s hop Sched ul e Date Venue Time 15-19, November 2000 Centenary Hall, Government Museum, Chennai 10.15a.m 4.45 p. m

15 November Inaugural function at Centenary Hall, Government Museum, Chennai from 10.00 a.m- 1.00 p. m Lecture: Arts and Lives of the Warli by M.D.Muthukumaraswamy S ketching and drawing different Kinds of Warli motifs 16 November Introduction and demonstration by Warli artists Warli painting-1 (on paper) Lecture: Indian tribal painting with special reference to Warli painting by K.Lakshminarayan Continuation of warli painting-1 17 November Finishing touches of painting-1 Warli painting-2 (on cloth) 18 November Continuation of painting-2 Finishing touches of painting-2 19 November Warli painting-3 (on paper) Finishing touches of painting-3 Valedictory function at Centenary Hall, Government Museum, Chennai from 3.30p.m 4.30 p. m

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Lannoy, Richard, 1971, The Speaking Tree, London Save, K.J, 1945, The Warlis, Bombay Wakankar, Vishnu and Robert Brooks, 1976, Stone Age Painting in India, Bombay Zimmer, Heinrich, 1946, Myth and Symbols in Indian Art and Civilization, New York On line resources on Warli Arts and Crafts of Warli tribe Paintings of the Warli tribe of India www. e z l i n k . c o m / ~ m a r t i / Ra s h m i / warli_art.htm What is Warli Art? NFSC in collaboration with Government Museum, Chennai announces its fourth public

programme - Warli painting Visual Art Tr aditions of India Series Date: 15-19, November 2000 Ve n u e : C e n t e n a r y H a l l , G ov e r n m e n t Museum, Chennai Artists: Kusam Shyam Karpade and Reena Santhya Umbersada For registration call Rola/ Jasmine at NFSC Phone No. 2450553/ 2448589 Addresses of Warli artists who are coming for this workshop: Kusam Shyam Karpade and Reena Santhya Umbersada C/O Father Adrian Shantivan Shethkari, Seva Mandal, Ashaghad, Taluka Dahanu District, Thane - 401602

National Folklor eSupport Centre

NFSC is a non-governmental, non-profit organisation, registered in Chennai dedicated to the promotion of Indian folklore research, education, training, networking and publications. The aim of the centre is to integrate scholarship with activism, aesthetic appreciation with community development, comparative folklore studies with cultural diversities and identities, dissemination of information with multi-disciplinary dialogues, folklore fieldwork with developmental issues and folklore advocacy with public programming events. NFSC aims to achieve its goals through cooperative and experimental activities at various levels. NFSCs public programming is supported by a grant from the Ford Foundation.

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National Folklore Support CentreNo.65, Fifth Cross Street, Rajalakshmi Nagar, Velachery, Chennai 600 042. Ph : 044-2450553, Fax : 044-2450553 Email : Site :

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