The different folk arts of India are immensely admired not only by the natives of India but also overseas due to their rare and aesthetic appeal. Bright, colourful motifs decorate the rural folk paintings, which also contain traces of religious designs. Pithora Paintings of the tribes of Rathwa, Bhilal and Nayaka of Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh, are another excellent instances of Indian tribal art. These paintings convey the joy and celebration of the community. Tribal paintings from Odisha, earlier practiced as house-hold decoration, but now a commercial art-form done on raw silk fabric display themes of everyday life. Madhubani paintings depict bright, lively deities, most popularly Krishna and his beloved Radha, and various stories associated with their legend. They are named after the village of their origin. Others like Phad, Warli, Pithora, Choittora also fall in this category of Indian art.
Also popular as 'Mithila Arts', Madhubani paintings are practiced in Mithila, Bihar and consists of line sketches beautified with attractive hues. Although tribal womenfolk have been engaged in this art, today men are involved in the art-form. However, the art is performed on clothes, canvas and paper, for commercial profitability. Themes comprise images of Tulsi plant, Goddess Saraswati, Goddess Durga, Lord Shiva, Goddess Lakshmi, Lord Krishna and Lord Rama, sun and moon, apart from floral motifs and geometrical patterns.
Warli Folk Paintings
Warli paintings are named after the largest local tribe of Mumbai, Maharashtra whose origin can be dated back to the 10th century AD. The walls of village homes are beautifully adorned with Warli paintings, which were once practiced by transforming folk tales to a population which were not accustomed with written forms of communication. Currently, Warli paintings are in high demand and sold throughout India, though they are done on paper and cloth. They appear impressive as murals on the walls and depict the mystical lifestyle of the Warlis.
Pattachitra paintings are said to be amongst the most ancient artworks of Odisha and presently, performed over canvas enriched with creative patterns which depict simple themes. The term 'Pattachitra' is a derivation from the Sanskrit word 'Patta' implying canvas and 'chitra' meaning picture. Mythological designs and themes are employed to make the paintings meaningful. They have undergone certain transformations with the passage of time and modern Pattachitra paintings are practiced on palm leaves and tussar silk.
Tanjore Art, also known as 'Thanjavur Art' is practiced in Indian states like West Bengal, Rajasthan, Gujarat and other regions. They portray the legendary tales and mythical accounts of regional heroes who paint the cultural heritage of the country. 'Religious paintings with a royal heritage' is one of the best instances of Tanjore paintings which are celebrated throughout the length and breadth of the nation. Outstanding gold leaf crafts, attractive colours, ornamental jewels with stones and cut glasses are utilized to heighten the appeal of Tanjore paintings.
Indian Kalamkari paintings are quite popular and are performed with the aide of pen, by sketching various kinds of patterns over cloth. The southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh is noted for their Kalamkari paintings. The term 'Kalam' means pen and 'kari' means work. Iron fillings and burnt tamarind twigs dipped inside molasses are used to create Kalamkari motifs, besides mineral pigments and vegetable dyes. Natural dyes made from roots, flowers and barks of trees are employed to make the colours for this type of painting.
Tattoos and piercings, kitchen artefacts, arms and weapons, several types of sculptures, baskets, textiles, masks and other objects represent the diverse tribal and folk arts of the nation. Puranic deities and certain legendary tales are transformed into contemporary themes and popular imageries and adopted into these art-works, which find expression in the local fairs and festivals. Today, a majority of the regional tribes led a civilized life and therefore their traditional identities are gradually taking a backseat. However, they still make attempts at retaining their cultural traditions and art-forms. Currently, the Government of India and numerous non-Governmental organizations or NGOs are striving to conserve the unique arts and tribal cultures of the country.