General Studies Paper 1 (Art & Culture): Warli & Gond paintings

Tribal art - Warli painting

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Syllabus: General Studies Paper 1 (Art & Culture)


Tribal art in India generally reflects the creative energy found in rural areas that acts as an undercurrent to the craftsmanship. Explain with reference to the Warli and Gond paintings.



India had always been known as the land that portrayed cultural and traditional vibrancy through its conventional arts and crafts. Tribal art ranges through a wide range of art forms such as wall paintings, tribal dances, tribal music and  so on. Tribal art forms, especially dance and music are tied inextricably to ceremonies of various kinds: be it weddings, births, coronations, entering a new house or town, welcoming a guest, religious processions or harvest time. They reflect the creative energies of rural areas, which in turn gets reflected in tribal craftsmanship.  This can be seen from the example of Warli Folk Painting as well as Gond Painting.



Warli painting is the famous folk art of Maharashtra. Warli is the name of the largest tribe found on the northern outskirts of Mumbai, in Western India. The Gonds, are the largest Adivasi Community in India and are Dravidian’s whose origin can be traced to the pre-Aryan era. They are mainly found in Madhya Pradesh and its surrounding States. The Gonds traditionally painted on mud walls of their houses. Starting in the early 1980’s.


Warli Folk Painting

  • These folk paintings of Warli tribe of Maharashtra are pretty close to pre-historic cave paintings in execution.
  • Images of human beings and animals, engaged in activities like hunting, dancing, sowing and harvesting are depicted. These paintings also serve social and religious aspirations of the local people.
  • They are painted on an austere mud base using one colour, white, with occasional dots in red and yellow. This colour is obtained from grounding rice into white powder.
  • For the Warlis, tradition is still adhered to but at the same time new ideas have been allowed to seep in which helps them face new challenges from the market.


Gond painting

  • Gond painting is one of the tribal arts of Madhya Pradesh. This painting reflects man’s close connection with his natural surroundings.
  • A majority of Gond paintings take inspiration from nature.
  • Gond painting reflects the perception of life of Gond tribes, their faiths and beliefs and the happenings of their day to day.
  • These paintings were made to bring the good luck so it was mostly done on walls.
  • Natural dyes obtained from natural resources available in the forest of Gondhvana region was used for colouring.
  • The painting has evolved and nowadays it also depicts abstract concepts like emotions, dreams and imagination.



These simple yet vibrant art forms speak volumes about the country’s rich artistic heritage.

The growing popularity and commercialization of these paintings holds the potentials for the upliftment of tribal people and may also play a crucial role in integrating them with the mainstream.


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