The Wonderful Imagination of India's Warli Tribal Paintings

Folk Art from India Warli Paintings Warli Tribal Art

I never cease to be amazed by the richness of design and imagination in these Warli paintings.

We've written other blogs about Warli paintings but this new collection compels me to write another. I've called this first painting Village Life Under a Crescent Moon but it could also be a solar eclipse. As always, my interpretations could be wrong! Whether it's the moon or the sun, I love the way it's portrayed radiating life and energy.
The outline shape of the trees is the same but the branches and foliage couldn't be more different, as are the small plants on top of the hill. It seems the Warli live in a very lush and diverse environment where all life has equal value, it's own part to play in the environment - insects are the same size as animals and are equally important. Look at the extraordinary long tailed creature in the top left tree - and the comb-like hairstyles of the man and woman at the top of the hill!

Warli Painting of an Eclipse

This same comb-like design occurs in the fruit laden trees in this Painting of Exotic Trees as well as the two human figures and three different types of corn plants. Is the one with a trident an ascetic wandering Shiva devotee? And the other person - are they attempting to fly on wings of straw or dancing in some ritual? Even though they're both represented with simple stick-like forms there is a feminine quality to this second figure, who's maybe wearing large earrings or some head gear.

Warli Painting of Exotic Trees

This smaller painting of Dancers and a Tree appears to clearly distinguish between men and women. Women with an earring perhaps, or longer hair tied up and off to one side of the head. That same figure is there with the wings of straw and in the top right a woman is beating a man with a stick - drunk again? The man, that is.
The painting is full of music and dance, all taking place around a central tree.

Warli painting of Dancers & a Tree

This next painting is even more full of wonder than the others - is it a dream painting? Some of the scenes and figures are enclosed inside a kind of bubble that suggests a dream experience in another realm to the rest of the painting. The postures of the those dream figures are quite different from those we're familiar with who are engaged in everyday activity, one wielding a scythe, another carrying a bundle.

There are beautiful trees and plants, animals, rain clouds at the top and a strange empty mollusc-like space near the bottom of the painting. 

Mysterious Warli Painting of Dream States

You can buy these and other Warli paintings in the Warli section of our Paintings Collection and read our other Warli blogs here: 

Warli Paintings | Tribal Art from India includes images of large Warli paintings on painted on walls and has a link to a remarkable film about the Warli villages and their representation in their paintings.

Warli Tribal Painting looks at the history and techniques of Warli painting.


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