Indian Folk Art

India has always been portrayed as a land of cultural and traditional diversity. Every corner of the country has a distinctive cultural identity which is represented through different art forms. These art forms can be collectively put under the topic of Indian Folk Art. Each region has a different style and pattern of art which is practised by the rural folks. These art forms are colourful, simple and reflect the rich heritage. The country is home to around 2500 tribes and ethnic groups. So every state has a unique and interesting form of folk art.

Previously these were done using natural dyes and mostly used for decorating walls and houses. These forms which still exist today, have undergone many changes through all these years including change of medium, colours and pattern. Here are such art forms which give us a peek into the cultural heritage of different regions of the country.

MADHUBANI

Madhubani, also known as Mithila art, was developed by women of Mithila in Northern Bihar. It is characterised by line drawings, colourful patterns and motives. These were practised for hundreds of years but were discovered in 1934 by a British collonial officer during an inspection after an earthquake on house walls.

PATACHITRA

The word ‘patachitra’ derives from the Sanskrit words patta, meaning canvas and chitra, meaning picture. It is one of the oldest art forms of Odisha. It is done on canvas and portrays simple mythological themes through rich colours and motives. Some of the themes include Thia Badhia – depicting the temple of Jagannath, and Panchamukhi – depicting Lord Ganesh as a five-headed deity.

WARLI

Warli is the name of cultivator tribes belonging to Northern Maharashtra and Gujarat. Though discovered in early seventies, the roots of the art form can be traced back to as early as 10th century A.D. Mostly featuring geometrical shapes, they potray daily life, hunting, fishing and festival scenes. They show a common human figure through a circle and two triangles, which move in circles resembling the circle of life.

RAJASTHANI MINIATURE PAINTING

The art form is introduced by Mughals who brought in persian artists for creating the art. The Mughal emperor Akbar built an atelier for them to promote the artwork. They trained Indian artists who produced it in a new style inspired by the royal lives of Mughals. Eventually the paintings made by these Indian artists came to be known as Rajput or Rajasthani miniature. They are characterized by strong lines and bold colours made from minerals, precious stones, even pure gold and silver.

TANJORE ART

Orijinating in Tanjavore, about 300kms from Chennai, this art form evolved under the rulers of the Chola empire. Characterized by brilliant colour schemes, decorative jewellery with stones and remarkable gold leaf work, these paintings mostly consist themes of gods and goddesses.

KALAMEZUTHU

Simmilar to Rangoli and Kolam, this art form originated in Kerala. It mostly consists of the representation of deities like Kali and Lord Ayyappa on temple floors. Natural pigments and powders of mostly 5 colours are used by the makers and the art is done by bare fingers without the use of any tools. The 5 colour shades are made from natural pigments like – rice powder for white, burnt husk for black, turmeric for yellow, a mixture of lime and turmeric for red and the leaves of certain trees for green. Lighted oil lamps brighten the colours in the figures which usually feature anger or other emotions.