Indian Folk Art – An intricately crafted tapestry of experiences
Imagine yourself walking into a world of art; a world where all your imaginations come true; a world that will transport you to a time that has only been accessible in stories, up until now. This is exactly what the ancient Indian Folk Painting and Art Styles do to you.
India is a land renowned for its cultural and traditional vibrancy, and the conventional arts and crafts here beautifully reflect the wealth of Indian culture. Passed down from one generation to another, Indian art forms have evolved over the years. While some of them remains untouched by modernization, some have adapted to new paint colours and materials. Beautifully preserved and nurtured for the world to witness, the exquisite Indian art injects a sense of antiquity. So, without any further ado, let’s take you on a vintage nostalgia ride of some classic Indian Art Forms.
The Madhubani Art is also known as Mithila Art. This art form originated in Nepal and in present day Bihar. The Madhubani paintings are characterized by geometric patterns and are made using numerous techniques including fingers, twigs, brushes, nib –pens and matchsticks. The art portrays some prominent Indian occasions like weddings and birth, apart from major festivals including Holi, Surya Shasti, kali Puja, Upanayana and Durga Puja. These paintings are compared to the art work of Picasso and Miro, and most of them depict gods, flora and fauna. The astonishing Madhubani art is presented in five distinctive styles, including Bharni, Katchni, Tantrik, godna and kohbar.
As the name suggests, the Miniature paintings are characterized by its miniature size, intricate details and acute expressions. This art form was introduced to the land of India by the Mughals, who brought this art form from Persia. The Persian artists trained Indian artists who produced these paintings in a new distinctive style, inspired by the royal lives of Mughals. The particular miniature produced by Indian artists in their own style is known as Rajput or Rajasthani miniature. These paintings are created with utmost care and minute details. Usage of strong lines and bold colours are significant in the miniature paintings. The artists use paper, ivory panels, wooden tablets, leather, marble, cloth and walls for their paintings. A unique feature of these paintings is that the humans are portrayed with large eyes, a pointed nose and a slim waist, and men are always seen with a turban.
Originating in Tanjavur about 300 kms from Chennai, Tanjore paintings are another priceless heritage of India. Tanjore or Thanjavur paintings can be recognized by its use of gold foil, which glitters and gives the painting a surreal look. Borrowing its styles from Maratha and Deccani art, these paintings depict devotion to gods, goddesses and saints. These paintings can be best described as religious paintings with a royal heritage. Tanjore painting ranks among the greatest traditional art forms for which India is noted worldwide. These precious paintings were adorned with rubies, diamonds and other precious gemstones, making them a true treasure in Indian Heritage. The shine and glean on the gold leaves used by the Tanjore style paintings, lasts forever.
Kalamkari, which literally means “pen-art”, is another popular form of Indian painting. This art form is divided into two categories in India – Machilipatnam which originated from Machilipatnam in Andhra Pradesh and Srikalahasti which originated from Chitoor. Machilipatnam is referred to block-printed form of art, and Srikalahasti is a free flowing art with a pen on fabric. Originating in the Sasani era almost 2500 years ago, today this art is used on sarees and ethnic clothing. These paintings depict temples, temple hangings, chariot banners and scenes from Hindu epics – Ramayana, Mahabharata and Puranas.
Originated in the 19th century Bengal, Kalighat Painting is a recently discovered painting style. At first, these paintings depicted Gods and Goddesses. However, eventually with time they took a turn towards social reform. The kalighat Paintings involve usage of cheap paper and paint colours, squirrel hair brushed and colour pigments. Characterised by flawless strokes, brushwork and simple yet bold drawings, these paintings were used as a medium to raise social awareness.
Warli Art is a famous tribal art that originated in Maharashtra around 400 years ago. The Warli Folk Paintings express the daily and social events of the Warli tribe. This art form is simple in comparison to the vibrant paintings of Madhubani. Traditionally created in the homes of the Warlis, these paintings can be recognized by the fact that they are painted on a mud base using one color, white, with occasional dots in red and yellow. Created using basic geometric shapes, today the art form has moved onto paper and canvas.
One of the oldest and most popular art forms of Odisha and West Bengal, Pattachitra painting is a cloth based scroll painting. The name Pattachitra has evolved from the Sanskrit words patta, meaning canvas, and chitra, meaning picture. These paintings are sharp, angular bold lines, and depict Gods and Goddesses. What’s unique about this art form is that the dress style depicted in the paintings has heavy influence of the Mughal era.
These bold, vibrant paintings were created by the Gondi tribe in Madhya Pradesh. Characterised by a sense of belonging with nature, the colours in these paintings come from charcoal, cow dung, leaves and coloured soil. A closer look into these paintings reveals that these were made up of dots and lines. Today, these styles are imitated, but with acrylic paints.
From cultures to traditions, from religion to everyday lifestyle, these paintings depict all the aspects of India which make it truly incredible.