Resting at the foothills of the western ghats- Sahaydris resides an indigenous tribe in all their glory. They don’t conform to any religion and speak a dialect unheard of. What started as a beautification process for homes has now become a renowned art form, garnering worldwide praise. This indigenous clan is called Warli, known for their Warli art.
Conjecture suggests that Warli originated around the 10th century AD. The saying “Art imitates Life”, is especially true for Warli Art. This folk art form is a replication of life, tribal activities, forest and tribal culture, paying homage to the Mother Goddess, and Warli culture and traditions. The genesis of the word Warli can be owed to ‘Warla’- meaning ‘piece of land/field’.
Two triangles joined at the tip represent the torso and the pelvis, known to symbolize the ‘Balance of the Universe’. The head is a simple circle with a bun to distinguish the female. Nature is the guiding factor for this art form, representing man’s oft-forgotten deep-rooted connection with it. The walls of the house are plastered with soil, cow dung and branches to give it the signature brick-red colour. White is the only primary colour used for the painting. It is made of hand-pounding white rice mixed with water and gum. A chewed-off bamboo stick serves as the brush. (Source: Warli Painting- Wikipedia)
Jivya Soma Mashe, whose art brought international recognition to the art form was awarded the National Award in 1976, and The Padmashri in 2011. The artist spoke of Warli art as liberation from his arduous life and an expression of ‘movement’ on paper. Jivya’s art was an ode to life through his powerful imagination and deeply sensitive thought on paper through deft brushstrokes.
Warli is as fluid as human emotion. Even, Jivya who suffered a loss early on used art and pictures to communicate. It understands the importance of including nature and its elements and being respectful to it. (Source: Wikipedia)
TARPA: The Tarpa is the most significant event and motif in the art form. Tarpa is a celebratory harvest dance filled with colours, enthusiasm and joy! Most importantly, it is a sense of community that is irreplaceable. A Tarpa player
wields the musical flute-like instrument crafted from Bamboo and plays many a melodious tone. He is surrounded by dancers in a spiral. Rice, being their staple grain, its harvest is celebrated with great pomp and joy. The painting immaculately replicates the lithe tribal dancers and their graceful movements.
India is replete with culture, tradition and art. Most forms replicate the grounded nature of the Indian society and its respect for Nature as the nurturing force. Warli Art is the perfect exemplar of a multicultural society. While increased digital connectivity has distanced us from the real world, Warli serves as a lesson in humility and groundedness.