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At the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples celebrated near Mumbai recently, the cynosure of all eyes was the parade of adivasis: The most striking feature about them was that the clothes and hats they wore and the musical instruments they played were all made up of palm leaves. Palm tree is the signature of their way of life.
Though seemingly a fringe group, the tribal people have a message to the modern world grappling with several lifestyle crises: Live in communion with nature.
Warli tribe folk have a unique culture, livelihood and way of life, speaking a language which has no script. They have been living in Javkar, Mokkada, Takkanu and Talasari taluks in North Palghar district and in some parts of Nashik and Tulu districts in Maharashtra, Walchat, Tangasu, Nawsari and Surat in Gurajat, as well as the Union territories of Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu.
Yasodhara Dalmia’s book, The Painted World of Warlis, traces the Warlis’ tribal art form of painting to 2500-3000 BCE. Researchers have pointed out the connection between the Warli paintings and the Bhimbeka rock paintings in Madhya Pradesh.
Warli tribe people have a unique culture, livelihood and way of life, speaking a language which has no script. They live in Maharashtra, Gurajat, as well as the Union territories of Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu
Warli paintings are drawn on the basis of simple mathematical patterns. That is to say, the structures of circles, triangles and squares are used to portray scenes from nature. The circular shapes denote the sun and the moon, and the triangles, mountains. The central motif of the paintings is the square.
Generally, these paintings are still painted on the walls of the huts where these indigenous people live. The walls are made up of tree branches and cow dung. The inner walls of the houses are painted in saffron. It is against this background that paintings are drawn. White color is used to set off the saffron background. The white color is made up of rice flour mixed with water and some other paste.
In a sign of craftmanship, bamboo sticks with points blunted are used for drawing. Often the paintings decorate the houses to mark weddings and harvest festivals. It is remarkable that it is women who protect this tradition of painting.
Warli paintings became popular globally after the 1970s. In 2010, Warli paintings and figures were featured in the Coca-Cola campaign that brought the tribal art form into the limelight.
The Warli painting has also decorated advanced costume designs which are used in sarees, churidars, curtains and bed sheets.
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