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Owliver’s Sketchbook #106 min read

September 18, 2021 4 min read


Owliver’s Sketchbook #106 min read

Reading Time: 4 minutes

To give you a regular dose of some art, Owliver has partnered with his friends from PhilARThropy!

About PhilARThropy: PhilARThropy is a social organisation that takes art education and creation to under resourced communities by working in low income academic spaces across India).

The activities need minimum supplies, and you do not have to worry about perfecting it— this is your sketchbook. Have fun with it!

This time, we are taking you to the culturally vibrant Maharasthra to explore an art form that brings communities together…


This art form belongs to the Warli tribe of Maharashtra. It has origins in the 10th century ACE but was only discovered in middle of 20th century. Farming is the means of livelihood for the tribe, and as such nature worship is the major concern for this art form. The respect for wildlife and plants is evident in their depiction alongside human figurines in the painting above. Warli is mostly drawn by the people of the tribes on the walls of their clay huts!

Below is a Warli painting depicting a wedding. The central figure in the square shrine like structure in the centre of the canvas is the Goddess of fertility, Goddess Palaghata.

Simple geometric shapes like circles, squares, and triangles form the foundation of this art form, and they all have a symbolic meaning. The circles stand for different elements of nature. The circle represents the sun, and the moon, and a certain continuity that resembles the cycles of nature. The triangle represents trees and mountains. The square represents human-made creations. People and animals are shown as two triangles joint at their tips. The paintings are ritualistic like that for marriages, and festivals, and also depict everyday life.

Another fascinating feature of the paintings is the tarpa dance. The tarpa is a wind instrument, like a trumpet, and is played by the Warli tribe. People of the tribe entwine their hands like in the second picture and move in circles around the tarpa player.

Traditionally, the painting is made on the walls of clay huts where the artists reside. The walls of the hut are made using earth, branches, and red brick giving the painting a red background. The white paint is made by mixing rice flour with water using gum as a binder. A chewed bamboo stick works as a brush. The paintings are made on special occasions like marriages, festivals or during harvest.

Now, you may have two reservations at this point:

You don’t have a red wall in your house, and you don’t want to paint your room red.

How can you make these intricate patterns? It looks so hard!

Well, Owliver’s friends from PhilARThropy are here to dispel those concerns:

1. You can use white paint on a red paper for this. If you do not have a red paper, then simply paint a paper a deep red and wait for it to dry completely (Tip: Make sure that the white paint that you use on the painted red sheet has very little water dipped in it. You don’t want the water of the white paint to wet the dried red. That will lead to another colour! Can you guess what that is? Hint: It’s the color of the pygmy seahorse).

2. We also have a step-by-step guide in three parts for you to learn how to make Warli. We will start with sharing templates on borders, circles, and leaves. Next week, we will learn how to create human figurines. The week after, we will learn to make animals and birds. And before you know it, you will be able to create the whole composite image in your own way!

Let’s get started, shall we?

Template 1

Here are some borders for you to create, and practice:

Here’s more from the world of Warli flora:

Get out your pens and papers to start practising these shapes and we will be back next time, to work with you to add some more life to your learning of this beautiful art form.

Preview for next time:

Want to learn how to make these really interesting human figures? Return next week for Template 2!

Till then, happy whirling with Warli-ing!

Image: Giphy
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