16 Noteworthy Indian Folk Art Practices

India is home to diverse forms of art thanks to the diversity of it’s people. Of particular note are the many forms of folk and tribal art that have propelled Indian Art to it’s present recognition, yet remain relatively lesser known. This week, we take a look at a few of these indigenous art-forms.

(This compilation is in no particular order and is not exhaustive.)


PATACHITRA

Patachitra paintings are the pictogram of the most popular living traditions in the art world of Orissa. The paintings are traditionally practiced by local artisans in the village of Raghurajpur. Patachitra paintings of Orissa exhibit  strong line and brilliant colours, the two principal aspects of Orissa folk painting.

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Patachitra Painting
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Patachitra Painting

 

GOND

The term Gond art refers to paintings that emerge from a heterogeneous tribal group called the Gond or Koiture, mostly centered in Madhya Pradesh. Even within the phrase Gond art there is a wide spectrum of artistic styles, primarily connected to distinct painters and their practices. However, the unifying theme in Gond art is the pervasive presence of nature.

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Gond Painting by Ram Singh Urveti
folkartgond
Tigers by Jangarh Singh Shyam

 

KALAMKARI

The art of painting using organic dyes on cloth was popular in several parts of India, but this style of Kalamkari flourished at Kalahasti (80 miles north of Chennai) and at Masulipatnam (200 miles east of Hyderabad). The Kalamkari tradition chiefly consists of scenes from Hindu mythology.

Kalamkari Painting
Kalamkari Painting
Kalamkari Painting
Kalamkari Painting

 

MADHUBANI

Madhubani which literally translates into ‘forests of honey’, refers to a rural artform developed by women from Mithila in Bihar. These eye catching paintings have a very distinct style that captures the viewer’s attention with their geometrical patterns and bright colours.

Madhubani Painting by Dhirendra Jha
Madhubani Painting by Dhirendra Jha
Madhubani Painting
Madhubani Painting

 

SANTHAL

Santhal Painting is portrayed by the Santhal tribes  located in Bihar, Orissa and West Bengal. The main themes of Santhal paintings are usually spread over rituals and celebrations such as dance, harvest, merry making, family functions and Hindu deities.

Santhal Painting
Santhal Painting
Santhal Painting
Santhal Painting

 

BENGAL PAT

Kalighat painting or Kalighat Pat originated in the 19th century Bengal, in the vicinity of Kalighat Kali Temple, Kalighat,Kolkata and from being items of souvenir taken by the visitors to the Kali temple, the paintings over a period of time developed as a distinct school of Indian painting. From the depiction of Hindu gods, goddesses, and other mythological characters, the Kalighat paintings developed to reflect a variety of themes.

Kalighat Painting
Kalighat Painting
Kalighat Painting
Kalighat Painting

 

TANJORE

The history of Tanjore Paintings dates back to Marathas invasion of south India during 16th century. Tanjore paintings are known for rich color, surface richness and compact composition. Paintings are adorned with rich semiprecious stones, glass pieces and gold that add colour to the surroundings.

Tanjore Painting
Tanjore Painting
Tanjore Painting
Tanjore Painting

 

PICHWAI

Pichwai painting is a form of traditional fabric painting that is rooted in Rajasthan, India. Pichwais are more refined and detailed than Phads. They are created and used as backdrops in the Shrinathji temple at Nathdwara and in other Krishna temples. The main theme of these paintings is Shrinathji and his exploits. Pichwais are painted, printed with handblocks, woven, embroidered or decorated in appliqué.

Pichwai Painting
Pichwai Painting
Pichwai Painting
Pichwai Painting

 

WARLI

Maharashtra is known for its Warli folk paintings. These paintings do not depict mythological characters or images of deities, but depict social life. Images of human beings and animals, along with scenes from daily life are created in a loose rhythmic pattern.

Warli Painting
Warli Painting
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Warli Painting

 

PHAD

The large-scale horizontal paintings on cloth portraying the epic lives of the local hero-gods are popularly known as Phad paintings. These paintings have the mammoth task of representing a complex and a full blown folk epic narrative, which it achieves through a very specific style of representation, filled with figures & pictorial incidents. These paintings are customarily opened or unrolled only after sundown, in conjunction with the all night performance. This could be one reason for these paintings to be called Phad which means folds in Rajasthani dialect.

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Phad Painting
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Phad Painting

 

MINIATURE PAINTING

Miniatures paintings are beautiful handmade paintings, which are quite colorful but small in size. The highlight of these paintings is the intricate and delicate brushwork, which lends them a unique identity. The most common theme of the Miniature painting of India comprises of the Ragas i.e., the musical codes of Indian classical music. There were a number of miniature schools in the country, including those of Mughals, Rajputs and the Deccan.

Miniature Painting
Miniature Painting
Miniature Painting
Miniature Painting

 

NIRMAL

From the rustic ethos to the royal environment, from flora to fauna, an explicit array of expressions is portrayed in myriad colours and forms on Nirmal paintings. This art form named after its place of origin, Nirmal in Adilabad district of Telangana, is practiced by an exclusive group of artisans called ‘Naqash’.

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Nirmal Painting
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Nirmal Painting

 

PITHORA

Rathwas in Gujarat invoke their revered Pithora Baba thanking him for fulfilling their wish during a nightlong ritual. Over a night of singing, dancing and feasting, the villagers make murals which form the basis of Pithora Paintings.

Pithora Painting
Pithora Painting
Pithora Painting
Pithora Painting

 

KALAMEZHUTHU

Kalamezhuthu is a traditional ritual art form of Kerala, it’s an art of creating huge pictures on the floor. This traditional art form is found in Kerala with its own uniqueness, in Kerala Kalamezhuthu is a temple art, the pattern drawn are basically of deities and the colour scheme followed is also of a particular kind. This type of tradition is a blend of the Dravidian and tribal form.The kalams which are drawn are generally related to deities like Devi, Naga and Sastha.

Kalamezhuthu Art
Kalamezhuthu Art
Kalamezhuthu Art
Kalamezhuthu Art

 

CHITTARA

Nestled in the ranges of verdant western ghats of North Canara lives the Deevaru community. Chittara drawings are intricate patterns, that represent the auspicious ceremony and rituals of life, symbolized in geometric patterns. This requires a certain understanding of ratios and proportions, which the women of the community have been using with great dexterity.

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Chittara Painting
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Chittara Painting

 

ANASARA 

Anasara Paintings actually belong to the temple rituals in the Jagannatha Temple at Puri in the state of Orissa. During the month of June, the painted wooden deities of Subhadra, Balabhadra and Jagannatha are given ritual baths.The deities are then laid to rest inside the temple for a period of fifteen days . This very period is treated as a period of anasara or anavasara, which means seclusion. As the wooden deities are kept away from public, so the need arises for substitutes. Three pata paintings actually provide the substitutes which are called anasura patis.

Anasara Painting
Anasara Painting

 

Have we missed out on something? Let us know in the comments section.

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