What is Warli Art?

by Annie Saxena on Feb 16, 2023

What is Warli Art?

An indigenous tribe of western India, the Warli or Varli inhabit mountains and coastal regions around the Maharashtra-Gujarat border and other places. Some people believe that they belong to the Bhil tribe as a subcaste. Maharashtra is known for its folk art, known as Warli Painting. The largest tribe located in the northern suburbs of Mumbai, the capital of Maharashtra, is the source of the term "Warli." It was created in the first century AD.

Varli art is a common misspelling of Warli art. "Warli" comes from the word "Waral," which refers to a small plot of tilled land. The interaction of the tribes with nature and the woodlands served as inspiration for Warli's art. The origin of the Warli art paintings is still being determined, although they are among the earliest paintings in India and are thought to have been created in the 10th century.

What is Warli Art?

The Warli tribe in Maharashtra, India, is the source of the ancient form of Indian folk painting known as "Warli art." It is distinguished by straightforward geometric designs and symbols representing the Warli people's way of life, agriculture, and social rituals. Warli's art utilizes highly stylized patterns and motifs typically only made using white and red as its primary colors. The artworks are often created using a mixture of rice paste and water and are painted on the walls of homes. Warli art is an important medium for expressing cultural identity and is listed as an Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO.

How Old is Warli Art?

The Warli tribe, located in western India, has a long history of artistic expression and a rich cultural heritage. The area's old art and cultural practices are the source of the traditional Indian folk art known as warli. Although the antiquity of Warli's art is unknown, it is thought to have been practiced for many centuries. Warli art may have been a part of this tradition for many generations.
The earliest known Warli paintings come from the nineteenth century and offer a window into the way of life and beliefs of the Warlis at that time. These early paintings show scenes from everyday life, including farming, hunting, and social interactions, in addition to religious and cultural rituals.

Warli art is today regarded as one of the most significant types of Indian folk art due to its recent popularity and recognition in India and overseas. The popularity of Warli art has aided in preserving and promoting this distinctive cultural tradition. It continues to act as an inspiration to artists and art enthusiasts all over the world.

What is Warli Tribe?

The Indian state of Maharashtra is home to the Warli tribe, an indigenous people group. The Warlis are predominantly agricultural people that make their livings from farming, forestry, and gathering forest products. They have a unique cultural identity, a unique language, and a unique set of traditions that have been passed down down the generations.

The Warlis have a strong legacy of music, dancing, and art regarding social and cultural customs. As I already mentioned, Warli art is a style of painting that is unique to the Warli tribe and is regarded as a sort of Indian folk art. The Warlis are renowned for their close-knit social ties, lively social gatherings, and participation in music, dancing, and other artistic pursuits. They also have a strong sense of community.

In general, the Warli tribe plays a significant role in preserving India's cultural legacy, and its rituals and traditions offer crucial insights into the way of life and traditions of rural populations in India.

Can We Use Color in Warli Art?

The two primary colors used in Warli's art are red and white. In contrast to the red color, which is often produced using natural dyes obtained from roots, flowers, and leaves, white is made by combining rice paste with water. The sharp and uncomplicated contrast that these two hues produce is a hallmark of Warli's painting.

While the traditional usage of white and red is a significant component of Warli's painting, some current painters may experiment with new colors or methods. It's vital to remember that using more colors or materials from the current era could not align with Warli art's traditional techniques and aesthetics.

In order to preserve the integrity and authenticity of this distinctive kind of Indian folk art, it is often better to keep with the traditional use of white and red in Warli painting.

What are the Categories of Warli Paintings?

The themes and subjects represented in warli paintings can be used to classify them. The following are some typical Warli painting categories:

Agriculture-Related Scenes: These paintings show the Warlis' relationship with the soil, and they are agricultural practices, including planting and harvesting crops, taking care of cattle, and other farming tasks.

Scenes from Hindu mythology and religious ceremonies, including weddings and festivals, are shown in these paintings.

Scenes from Everyday Life: These paintings show scenes from people's everyday lives in Warlis, such as cooking, eating, working, and socializing.
Landscapes, trees, animals, and birds are included in these paintings of nature scenes, showing the natural world's beauty and diversity.

These paintings' abstract patterns and designs draw inspiration from Warli culture and traditions.

It's crucial to remember that Warli's paintings frequently incorporate diverse topics and subjects and that the genre in which they fall is only sometimes obvious. However, these classifications give a rough notion of the themes and scenes frequently represented in Warli's paintings.

What is the Concept Behind Warli Art?

The Warli tribe's beliefs, values, and way of life are the foundation of the Warli art's conceptual framework. It illustrates the tribe's close relationship with nature and regard for the environment. The simple and peaceful way of life of the Warlis, who are closely connected to nature and depend on the land for their survival, is depicted in Warli paintings.

Nature is revered and respected in Warli art, where it is shown as a source of life and nutrition. The Warli people show animals, plants, and the elements of nature as essential components of their world, and they frequently do so in stylized and symbolic ways.

Another significant feature is the representation of social interactions and community in Warli's art. People interacting, working together, having fun, and taking part in religious and cultural rituals are frequently seen in Warli paintings. The tight-knit society and strong sense of solidarity and collaboration among the Warlis are reflected in these paintings.

In general, Warli art celebrates the Warlis' relationship with nature and their community and expresses their values, beliefs, and way of life. The Warli tribe's paintings serve as a significant cultural and historical record and shed essential light on remote Indian communities' daily existence.

What are the Main Features of Warli's Art?

The primary characteristics of Warli's art are:

Geometric Shapes: Warli art is defined by using basic geometric shapes to construct the forms and figures in the paintings, such as triangles, circles, and squares.

Forms that are Highly Stylized and Abstract: The figures and shapes in Warli's paintings are highly stylized and abstract and frequently bear little relation to the actual appearance of the items or scenes they depict.

Utilization of White and Red Colors: Warli paintings are frequently made using a small color palette, commonly made of white and red. In contrast to red, which is often prepared using natural colors obtained from roots, flowers, and leaves, white is made by combining rice paste with water.

Daily Life: Warli paintings include scenes from the Warlis' daily lives and activities, such as individuals working, interacting with one another, and taking part in religious and ceremonial rituals.

Use of Symbols: People, animals, and objects are all depicted in Warli's art using a variety of symbols. These straightforward, stylized symbols frequently carry symbolic cultural and religious implications.

Nature Representation: The natural world, including landscapes, creatures, and plants, is frequently shown in Warli's paintings. These stylized and symbolic scenes convey the Warlis' intimate ties to the land and their reverence for nature.

Coarse Textures: The use of a rice paste and water mixture gives Warli paintings their distinctively coarse texture. The photographs have a rough, organic feel to them thanks to this texture, which is typical of traditional Indian folk art.

These characteristics combine to produce a distinct and recognized painting style that is both easy to understand and complex and captures the Warlis' intimate ties to the land, their community, and their cultural traditions.

Exactly Who Invented Warli Art?

Since Warli art is a traditional style that has developed over time thanks to the combined efforts of several generations of Warli painters, it is challenging to pinpoint who "created" it. The Warli tribe has been creating Warli art for generations, and it has been passed down through oral traditions and practical instruction from one generation of Warlis to the next.

Warli art draws inspiration from the region's old artistic and cultural traditions, and the Warlis have shaped and improved it over time. Themes and motifs in the Warli people's artwork reflect their long-standing reputation for a strong feeling of community and a close relationship with the land.

As a result, it is impossible to identify a specific individual or group of individuals as the creator of Warli's art. Instead, a lengthy and rich cultural history created and nurtured over numerous generations of Warlis gives rise to Warli art.

Which Tool is Used for Warli Art?

The main tool used to create Warli art is a bamboo stick, which is used to cover the painting's surface in white rice paste. The artist can draw precise lines, curves, and other features in the image because of the bamboo stick's flexibility and ease of manipulation. The contours and details of the figures and designs in the artwork are made using a paint-like solution caused by combining rice paste with water.

The Warli artists may also use their fingers, brushes, and other uncomplicated tools in addition to the bamboo stick to produce a variety of textures and effects in the paintings. The Warlis' regard for the environment and their intimate connection to it can be seen in the use of natural materials and basic tools.
Overall, using a bamboo stick and other straightforward instruments is a defining aspect of Warli art and is crucial to developing the specific style and techniques of this traditional form of Indian folk art.

How do you Explain Warli Art to a Child?

Invented by the Warli tribe in India, warli art is a playful and intriguing genre of artwork. They create pictures by painting their dwellings' walls or special paper with a unique paste they prepare from rice and water. It gives them a platform to share their daily experiences, stories, and what they see and do.

Simple forms like circles, squares, and triangles are used to create the images, which depict scenes such as farming families at work and other animals and flora. Since the Warlis utilize their art to communicate their customs and memories with others, it is unique to the Warlis.

Consider Warli's art a large puzzle, each piece being a different shape that all come together to form a larger picture. Each puzzle piece, like a shape, has significance and contributes to the story. If you want to try your hand at Warli art, start by sketching some straightforward shapes and seeing what images you can create!


According to Sohel, a native of Male Nagar in the Solapur region of Maharashtra, "Warli is a traditional art form of the state." The Warli only uses a white pigment that combines rice flour, water, and gum. This pigment is applied to the wall using a bamboo stick with one end bit off to create a flexible paintbrush.

Outside of Mumbai, there is a huge Indian tribe called the Warli. Although it is believed that the tribal style of art dates back to the 10th century A.D., it wasn't popularised until the 1970s. Mother Nature is a central idea in Warli culture, and natural objects are frequently used as focal points in Warli paintings.