Folk Paintings

Kalamkari Painting

  • Srikalahasti is located near the temple town, Tirupati Andhra Pradesh. It specializes in producing temple cloths – Kalamkari (pen-work).
  • Primarily used for temple festivals or as wall hangings.
  • Stories from Ramayana, Mahabharata and Puranas are painted as continuous narratives, each important event framed in a rectangle.
  • Sometimes short episodes from stories are also painted. Craftsman draws outline of the design with Kalam or pen on myrobalan treated cloth using charcoal sticks made from tamarind wood. He draws from the rich repertoire of design and motifs and iconographical details of various god and goddesses as lay down traditionally.
  • The colours are obtained from vegetable and mineral sources. The main colours used are black, red, blue and yellow and alum is used as mordant to fix the colours and to obtain the reds.
  • Gods are painted blue, the demons and evil characters in red and green. Yellow is used for female figures and ornaments. Red is mostly used as a background. The cotton cloth is washed in flowing water to remove starch and between dyeing and bleaching.
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Phad Painting

  • Phads are long, horizontal, cloth scrolls painted to honour folk deities of pastoral communities inhabiting the region around Bhilwara in Rajasthan.
  • It is a painted scroll depicting stories of epic dimensions about local deities and legendary heroes. Local priests – Bhopas, render these stories musically.
  • Phads, however, are not painted by the bhopas, the itinerant bards, who travel the territory, displaying them while narrating tales and singing devotional songs associated with these hero-deities.
  • They have traditionally been painted by a caste called ‘Joshis’ who have been painters in the courts of the kings of Rajasthan. These painters specialised in court patronised miniature paintings.
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Mithila Painting

  • Also called Madhubani painting
  • It is presumed that for centuries, women living in this region have painted figures and designs on the walls of their mud houses for ceremonial occasions, particularly, weddings.
  • These paintings, characterised by bright colours, are largely painted in three areas of the house— central or outer courtyards
  • Themes that are painted are episodes from the Bhagvata Purana, Ramayana, stories of Shiva-Parvati, Durga, Kali and Rasa-Lila of Radha and Krishna. Mithila artists do not like empty spaces.
  • They fill in the entire space decoratively with elements from nature like birds, flowers, animals, fish, snakes, the Sun and the moon, which often have symbolic intent, signifying love, passion, fertility, eternity, well-being and prosperity.
  • Women paint with bamboo twigs to which some cotton swab, rice straw or fibre is attached.
  • In earlier days, they made colour from mineral stones and organic things, such as phalsa and kusum flowers, bilwa leaves, kajal, turmeric, etc.
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Warli Painting

  • The Warli community inhabit the west coast of Northern Maharashtra.
  • Married women play a central role in creating their most important painting called Chowk to mark special occasions.
  • Closely associated with the rituals of marriage, fertility, harvest and new season of sowing, Chowk is dominated by the figure of mother goddess, Palaghat, who is chiefly worshipped as the goddess of fertility and represents the corn goddess, Kansari.
  • The central motif of Palaghat is surrounded by scenes of everyday life, portraying acts of hunting, fishing, farming, dancing, mythological stories of animals.
  • These paintings are traditionally painted with rice flour on earth coloured walls of their homes.
  • As mentioned earlier, are painted to promote fertility, these paintings avert diseases, propitiate the dead, and fulfill the demands of spirits. A bamboo stick, chewed at the end, is used as the paintbrush.
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Gond Painting

  • Gonds of Madhya Pradesh have a rich tradition with their chiefs ruling over Central India.
  • They worshipped nature.
  • Paintings of Gonds of Mandla and its surrounding regions have recently been transformed into a colourful depiction of animals, humans and flora.
  • The votive paintings are geometric drawings done on the walls of huts, portraying Krishna with his cows surrounded by gopis with pots on their heads to which young girls and boys make offerings.
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Pithora Painting

  • Painted by Rathva Bhils of the Panchmahal region in Gujarat and Jhabua in the neighbouring State of Madhya Pradesh, these paintings are done on the walls of houses to mark special or thanksgiving occasions.
  • These are large wall paintings, representing rows of numerous and magnificently coloured deities depicted as horse riders.
  • The rows of horse rider deities represent the cosmography of the Rathvas.
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Bengal Patas

  • Bengal patas comprise the practice of painting on cloth (pata) and storytelling in regions of West Bengal.
  • It is the most receptive oral tradition, constantly seeking new themes and formulating novel responses to major incidents in the world.
  • The vertically painted pata becomes a prop used by a patua (performer) for performance.
  • Patuas, also called chitrakars, belong to communities largely settled around Midnapore, Birbhum and Bankura regions of West Bengal, parts of Bihar and Jharkhand.
  • Handling the pata is their hereditary profession.
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Puri Patas or Paintings

  • It largely comprises the pata (initially, done on palm leaf and cloth but now done on paper as well).
  • A range of themes are painted, such as the daily and festival veshas (attires) of Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra.
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