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Warli Art: An Ancient Tribal Art form from Western Ghats

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Warli is one of the ancient forms of Indian tribal art. The tribal art form was originated in Warli region in Maharashtra and is practiced till date. The Warli culture strongly believes in Mother Nature and therefore their paintings usually depict all elements of nature. In ancient times, the artists mostly use the walls and floors of their clay huts as a canvas for their paintings. On special occasions, the floor and walls of the huts are cleaned and thinly coated with a mixture of mud and cow dung, which acts as a background for the traditional Warli art.

The style and materials used

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This art of Warli primarily comprises of geometric shapes and figures like triangles, circles, lines, and squares to depict life, culture, and tradition of the Warli tribe. The ink or paint used in sketching this art is a white paste prepared by mixing ground rice with water and gum, while the paintbrush is made of bamboo stick chewed at its tip to form the brushes of the applicator. One of the most common and well-known themes in Warli form of art is a spiral chain of human beings around one central motif. The depiction of such a pattern is symbolic to their belief that life is an eternal journey, which has no starting or ending point.

Keeping the traditional form of art alive

Since the 1970s, Warli painting has moved onto canvas and paper, when Jivya Soma Mashe and his son Balu Mashe started to paint not for ritual purposes but for the sake of their artistic pursuits. Jivya is considered as the modern father of Warli painting.

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While traditional art forms like Warli are finding it hard to survive in this digital era, a few selfless souls are putting all their efforts to keep the tradition alive. One of the saviors is Govardhan Eco Village in Thane district that has stepped forward to make this art form alive forever by offering the Warli artists various platforms to showcase their art.

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Coca-Cola India introduced a campaign featuring Warli painting in order to highlight the ancient culture and represent a sense of togetherness. The campaign was known as “Come Home on Deepawali”, which specifically targeted the modern young generation. The advertisement was promoted on traditional mass media, combined with radio, the Internet, and out-of-home media.

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Sonali Patnaik is majorly into secondary research and report writing. She is an avid reader and reads a variety of novels, a music lover and a movie buff. She also loves to travel and fond of cooking experiments. She expresses her views on various topics and does so through her well-researched articles.



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Grand presentation of the Ramayana by the residents of Prestige Misty Waters, Hebbal

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The residents of Prestige Misty Waters in Hebbal had a range of activities spanning over 2 days as part of the “Dasara Habba” celebrations which bought to a culmination with a grand presentation of the Ramayana. Around 500 people gathered to witness the spectacle of Ramayan.

The Ramayan is an epic depicting the love between Father and Son. King Dashrath loved all 4 of his sons equally but when the time came to choose his successor, it led to his favorite Queen Kaikeyi to ask for a forgotten boon putting King Dashrath in a dilemma of how to fulfill a promise long forgotten without letting his sons be banished to the forest.

Ram, Lakshman, and Sita, forever dutiful decided to spend 14 years in the forest. No Indian epic is complete without a villain. Ravana possessed with immense knowledge and obsessed with keeping Sita in Lanka was the star of this show, awing and scaring the audience in equal measure.

The children witnessed live the saying of a friend in need is a friend indeed when they saw a popular uncle of the complex playing the role of the beloved Hanuman and helping Lord Ram and Lakshman at every step.

The hard work of the residents, the elaborate costumes, makeup, lights and glamour with a cast of over 25 residents, many of whom had acted on stage for the first time ever, the play was the highlight of the event and will be remembered by all residents for a very long time.

The residents also celebrated Navratri Night to welcome Ambe Maa. Traditional garba workshops were conducted over the course of the week, brought to a crescendo with beautiful concentric garba circles and colourful Dandiya pairs starting with Gujarati songs like Pankhida and ending with the more popular Kamariya.

Traditional games for kids like lagori, kho-kho and kabaddi were also conducted. The kids made their own Ravana and wrote slips with one bad habit which they wished to overcome in the coming year. Following this all kids made yummy laddoos and distributed them amongst all residents.

When we began the rehearsals, I had all non actors in hand who had zero experience in performing art. From there to becoming as good as professional actors in a span of 15 days needed dedication and passion.  I couldn’t have asked for a better team that made the impossible possible.

My associates, Raghavendra and Swati were a boon and made everything so easy.  A perfect example of excellent teamwork, said a resident Priyaa Arya, who scripted and directed the play.

For the first time ever, my child has seen a story come alive from the books onto the stage. He will never forget this wonderful show, said one of the resident Varalakshmi.

I could not believe my eyes, looking at my friends playing the characters of the Ramayana. I was truly amazed and hats off to all participants to take time out from their busy schedule to put this play of together, said another resident Lokesh.

Being a space scientist, i had never ventured into art related fields and gone on stage even as a supporting actor.

When I was asked to do the role of Raavan, I felt, let’s put the effort. Surprisingly the practices really instilled the interest & character in me which made me to reciprocate the same, said another resident Suresh Naik.

–Press Release
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Pichwai Art of India

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Pichwai or ‘pichvai’ painting form is one of the most impressive and traditional art forms of India. These 400-year-old paintings have their roots in Nathdwara Rajasthan. Some people also believe that these paintings have originated from the villages of Aurangabad.

Pichwai paintings are usually large-sized paintings depicted on cotton cloth using natural colours. It generally portrays devotional pictures that narrate the tales of Lord Krishna.

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The making of these conventional painting consumes a substantial amount of time, which generally ranges from a couple of weeks to months. The process of making these paintings begin with the initial sketch on a hand-spun starched cloth. Once the beautiful sketch is created, it is painted and printed by using brilliant colours or woven with hand blocks. To paint the classic styles of art, the artists generally use natural colours and natural brushes.

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Today, Pichwai paintings have become the major export of Nathdwara. This classical form of art is much appreciated and has a great demand among foreign visitors. Most of the time, these paintings are the result of a group effort, where several skilful artists put together their efforts under the leadership of a master artist.

Thanjavur Painting: A Traditional Form of Art

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Thanjavur Painting: A Traditional Form of Art

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Thanjavur style of painting is one of the most popular and classical among all the South Indian painting forms. It is a native art of Thanjavur, which is also known as Tanjore in Tamil Nadu. The inspiration of this great southern art form traces back to around 1600 AD. Their dense artistic work along with their vibrant color and rich surface make these Thanjavur paintings distinguishable from the other forms of Indian paintings.

Origin of the Classic Art Form

Thanjavur paintings were first introduced by the Chola Dynasty in the 16th century. This was also a period, during which the Nayakas of Thanjavur under the reign of the Vijayanagara Rayas encouraged art which primarily included, classical dance and music as well as literature in Telugu and Tamil and paintings of the Hindu religious subjects in the temples.

However, according to some experts, it is surmised that Thanjavur paintings originated in the Maratha court of Thanjavur (1676 – 1855).

Making of Thanjavur Art

The first step out of the several steps involved in the making of a Tanjore Painting is the drawing of the preliminary sketch of the images on the surface of the canvas. The canvas for the painting is made up of a wooden base over which a cloth is pasted firmly. Then the second step involves the mixing of zinc oxide or the chalk powder with a water-soluble adhesive, which is then applied on the base. Next, the drawing is filled and ornamented with pearls, cut glass, and other semi-precious stones.

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In some cases, the use of laces or threads are made for decorating the painting. Furthermore, wafer-thin sheets of gold are pasted on some parts of the painting, while the other parts are painted in vibrant color combinations.

The Journey of Thanjavur art in the Modern Era

In 2007-08, Thanjavur paintings were recognized as a Geographical indication by the Government of India. The great art style of Thanjavur continues to be practiced till date, though the virtuosity and rigor of the Indian paintings are under-appreciated in the present day. Artists have taken this conventional form of art and over the years blended it with modern styles in order to create mixed media arts.

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Today, Thanjavur art is also used on mirrors, glasses, and canvases. The idea of decorating the traditional art of Thanjavur with gold foil was unique; therefore the same style is now taken and recreated on other mediums these days.

Origin of Kalamkari Paintings!

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Origin of Kalamkari Paintings!

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Kalamkari is a 3000-year-old art form practiced in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. It is a highly popular art form in which hand and block printing are used for making narrative scrolls and panels. The legacy of the ancient form of art has been passed on from generation to generation.

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The most eminent Kalamkari craft evolved with the patronage of the Mughals and the Golconda sultanate. Kalamkari literally means a form of painting the cotton fabrics with a kalam i.e. pen, made from a sharp and pointed bamboo nibbed applicator that regulates the flow of color on the fabric.

Kalamkari Art Styles

In India, there are two unique styles of kalamkari art, namely, Srikalahasti and the Machilipatnam style. The Srikalahasti style of Kalamkari, in which the pen or the “kalam” is used for freehand drawing and filling in the colors, is a complete handwork art. Machilipatnam style of Kalamkari craft involves vegetable-dyed block-painting of a fabric. It was registered as one of the geographical indications from Andhra Pradesh, under the handicraft goods by Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999.

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The Kalamkari art form specifically depicts epics tales from Hindu mythology such as the Ramayana or Mahabharata. It also depicts Buddha and Buddhist art forms. Additionally, the kalamkari patterns include floral motifs, animal forms, and the mehrab designs on textiles. Kalamkari art primarily involves earthy colors such as indigo, green, rust, black and mustard.

The Process of Art Painting

The process of kalamkari painting is very slow and dynamic. It goes through a process of resist – dyeing and hand printing. There are several treatments involved before and after the painting are finished.

The colors change depending on the treatment of cloth and quality of the mordant. Every step in the process is done and with perfection.

Kalamkari in Modern Era

Kalamkari paintings have a blooming market in and outside of India. Today, the kalamkari art for sale is available in leading exhibitions that display and promote Indian handicrafts. In modern times the handwork is replaced by digital.

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The art has updated digitally to fit in the digital era, where new types and advance techniques are being introduced and the digital files of kalamkari are being introduced widely all over the regions of India and Iran (Persia).

The Etymology behind the Great Art Form

Historically, Kalamkaris used to be known as Pattachitras, an art form still found in the neighboring state of Odisha and other regions of India and Nepal. The term “Pattachitra” comes from Sanskrit, where “Patta” means “cloth” and “Chitra” means “picture”.

Pattachitra: An Ancient Art form of Odisha!

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Pattachitra: An Ancient Art form of Odisha!

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Pattachitra style of painting is one of the ancient and unique art forms of Odisha. The traditional art form of Pattachitra is best known for its complex and detailed mythological themes inscribed in each of the masterpieces. Some of the popular themes used through this art form are Thia Badhia or depiction of the temple of Lord Jagannath; Krishna Lila or Shri Krishna displaying his supremacy as a child; Dasabatara Patti or the ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu; Panchamukhi or depiction of Lord Ganesh as a five-headed deity.

The traditions of pattachitra paintings are more than a thousand years old and the name has come from the Sanskrit words patta, means canvas and chitra, means picture. Therefore, Pattachitra is basically referred to as the painting sketched on canvas and is manifested by rich natural colours, creative patterns and designs, and portrayal of mythological themes.

The Legacy

Traditionally the artists of the ancient art form are called as Chitrakars.

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A Chitrakar’s studio is his home with all the members of the family, where woman of the family prepares the glue, the canvas and fill in colours, and give the final coat of polish. The male members of the family, who are considered as the master hand of the art piece, draw the initial lines and give the final finishing.

The Unique Process of Painting

Conventionally, the artists paint the Patta paintings on small strips of cotton cloth. The canvas is prepared by coating the cloth with a mixture of chalk and gum made from tamarind seeds. First, the mixture is applied by rubbing it with the help of two different stones and then the cloth is allowed to get dried. The coat makes the surface of the cloth smooth and provides a leathery finish.

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The colours used in these paintings are primarily natural and bright colours. The colour range is limited to white colour prepared from conch shell; red dye made from a mineral colour ‘Hingula’; yellow colour made from the king of stones called ‘Haritala’; indigo colour from ‘Ramaraja’; Pure lamp-black or black prepared from the burnt coconut shells.

The brushes that are used by these ‘Chitrakaras’ are also indigenous and are made of the hair of domestic animals. A bunch of hair tied to the end of a bamboo stick make the brush.

Once the drawing is complete, the colours are filled in and the final lines are drawn. After the painting phase is over, the back of the canvas is exposed to heat and then a fine lacquer is applied to the surface of the painting in order to protect it from weather conditions as well as a glossy finish.

The Transition of the Ancient Art Form

With the passage of time, the art of Pattachitra has witnessed through a commendable transition. Today, the artists or chitrakars paint the ancient art form on tussar silk and palm leaves, and even on wall hangings and showpieces.

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However, the innovative idea has never proved to be an obstruction in their traditional portrayal of figures and the use of colours, which has remained integral throughout generations. This continuity is the key factor that has retained the effervescence of Pattachitra.

Warli Art: An Ancient Tribal Art form from Western Ghats

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Madhubani Paintings: A traditional form of Art from Bihar

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Originated in the Mithila region of Bihar, Madhubani art is practiced by using a variety of tools, such as twigs, brushes, nib-pens, matchsticks and even fingers. The paintings are characterized by remarkable geometrical patterns using natural dyes and pigments. Mithila paintings portray typical Indian rituals of particular occasions, such as marriage or birth, and the festivals, such as Holi, Kali Puja, Upanayana, and Durga Puja.

Traditionally, the paintings were done on freshly plastered mud walls and floors of huts. Now the paintings are also found on handmade paper, cloth, and canvas. Earlier, Madhubani paintings were made from the paste of powdered rice.

Madhubani art has five distinctive styles namely, Bharni, Tantrik, Katchni, Godna, and Kohbar. Earlier, in 1960s Bharni, Kachni and Tantrik art styles were primarily done by Brahmins and Kayashth women, who were considered as ‘upper caste’ women in India as well as Nepal. The themes of the paintings are used to be religious and depicted Gods and Goddesses, plants and animals. Similarly, lower caste people used to portray the aspects of their daily life and symbols, tales of Raja Shailesh and several other things, in their paintings. Nowadays Madhubani art has evolved as a globalized art form, so there is no caste discrimination exists in the work of artists. They display their talent in all five styles.

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In 1969, Madhubani paintings received official recognition, when Sita Devi was honored with the State award by Government of Bihar. Latter, Jagdamba Devi became the first artist from Mithila to receive a National Award in Mithila paintings.

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Madhubani or Mithila painting has remained confined to a compact geographical area and the skills have been passed on through centuries, it has been accorded the coveted GI (geographical Indication) status.

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