Thursday, January 13, 2011

World of Warli Paintings

The Warlis or Varlis are an Indian indigenous peoples, who live mostly in Dahanu and Talasari talukas of the northern Thane district,  parts of Nashik and Dhule districts of Maharashtra, Valsad District of Gujarat and the union territories of Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu.They have their own beliefs, life, customs and traditions, which is the part  of the Composite Hindu Culture. The Warlis speak an unwritten Varli language which belong to the southern zone of  the Indo-Aryan languages, mingling Sanskrit, Marathi and Gujarati words. The word Warli is derived from warla, meaning "piece of land" or "field".

Their extremely rudimentary wall paintings use a very basic graphic vocabulary: a circle, a triangle and a square.The circle and triangle come from their observation of nature, the circle representing the sun and the moon,  the triangle derived from mountains and pointed trees. Only the square seems to obey a different logic and seems to be a human invention, indicating a sacred enclosure or a piece of land. So the central motive in each ritual painting is the square, known as the "chauk" or "chaukat", mostly of two types: Devchauk and Lagnachauk. Inside a Devchauk, we find Palaghata, the mother goddess, symbolizing fertility.
 Significantly, male gods are unusual among the Warli and are frequently related to spirits which have taken human shape. The central motif in these ritual paintings is surrounded by scenes portraying hunting, fishing and farming, festivals and  dances, trees and animals. Human and animal bodies are represented by two triangles joined at the tip; the upper triangle depicts the trunk and the lower triangle the pelvis. Their precarious equilibrium symbolizes the balance  of the universe, and of the couple, and has the practical and amusing advantage of animating the bodies.

The ritual paintings are usually done inside the huts. The walls are made of a mixture of branches, 
earth and cow dung, making a red ochre background for the wall paintings. The Warli use only white for their paintings.Their white pigment is a mixture of rice paste and water with gum as a binding. They use a bamboo stick chewed at the end to make it as supple as a paintbrush. These  paintings are done only for special occasions such as weddings or harvests.

To lend authencity to the orginal art form I have used brown/red ochre colored cardstock as the painting background and white acrylic paint instead of rice-gum paste. Also I used a fine brush and a white marker pen instead of bamboo sticks.

 Here's the photo of my  Warli painting.

Warli Painting Draft

Warli Painting

Do feel free to drop in your comments.  Happy Painting!

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