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Warli tribal paintings belong to the state of Maharashtra, in western India. These paintings are mainly created on mud walls of tribal houses. They depict social life – images of human beings and animals, along with scenes from daily life in a loose rhythmic pattern.
They express everyday life using extremely basic forms. The only colour used is white, which is obtained from grounding rice into white powder and painted on an austere mud base.
The painting style is a two dimensional, and close to pre-historic cave paintings. Their appeal lies in their lack of pretentiousness in conveying the profound – the core philosophy and social history of a tribal society.
Each painting is usually an entire scene that contains various elements of nature including people, animals, trees, hills etc. The themes can be events like a marriage, a dance, sowing, harvesting or hunting, or sometimes symbolic. Different varieties of trees are drawn in detail forming intricate decorative patterns. Birds and animals are frequently depicted. Natural elements such as streams and rocks are also featured.
Warli paintings are characterized by their depicting of humans with triangular bodies and animals with stick-like hands and legs, and geometrical designs with rows of dots and dashes. Straight lines were rare in Warli paintings. A series of dots and dashes made one line. However, with the recent international exposure, the artists have started to draw straight lines in their paintings.