Thursday, May 04, 2006

Warli Paintings

I can't help sharing some lovely art-work with you. For the most part, this is a non-food post, but there is a food connection, I promise!
The story is that my parents have a big old water-tank in their backyard. Left to itself, it is a bit of an eyesore, with three large cement walls exposed to the garden. So my parents creatively treat the three sides as canvases and everyone who is so inclined is invited to paint their own masterpiece on the canvas. Made with oil-based paints, these art-works last for a few months till the elements beat them down.
Last month, my parents invited my aunt, cousin and sister to be the artists (the former two are actually professional artists, the latter is a finance wiz-kid but a born artist all the same). They were inspired by some very lovely tribal folk-art of Maharashtra, Warli Paintings made by the Warli tribe. These folk artists use rice flour paste as their medium (see the food connection!) to make simple plain white line drawings that are transformed into astounding visual imagery with sheer creativity. Read more about Warli art here.

Here is what the three artists in the family came up with (to see the pictures up close, click on them to go to the flickr site where you can view them at a larger size):

The first side depicts daily village life. A little hut with busy inhabitants, girls skipping rope, daily chores of fetching water, whimsical depictions of flora and fauna:

The second side depicts dancers and musicians at a wedding party. Notice the string of mango leaves at the top? Those are considered very auspicious during Hindu celebrations.

The third side depicts a wedding scene...the bride and the groom riding a horse, being trailed by more revelers.

How do you like it?


  1. Hi,
    I have started reading your blog and it is awesome. I used to live in pune, usal & misal made me drive through memory lane.
    The paintings are beautiful, is it all free hand?

  2. Nupur: Wow, they are absolutely beautiful! Very beautiful! I wish I could get some of those paintings in fabrics so that i can hang them in my walls. You are very fortunate in having these artists within family:)

  3. Goodness how I love warli. Before leaving India I bought a wall hanging that has the tribes' morning and evening chores painted on it. It overwhelming in its simplicity you know...

  4. I love the traditional Warli spiral. Many moons ago, I painted it on the back of a black kameez. The yoke in the front had women cooking, children playing, men working in the fields - a typical day in the life of the Warlis. And the border for the skirt and the sleeves had the simple Warli chain. I never wore it because by the time I finished it, I was much too large for it. It's sitting in a closet in India. Maybe it's time to make it a family heirloom!

    Your family is very talented, Nupur. Those paintings are beautiful.

  5. I have seen versions of Warli paintings on bed spreads. They look so beautiful in the red background. You have very resourceful and talented family members!

  6. hi,
    i was waiting eagerly for you to start blogging again
    i started blogging in march2006 and you were a great inspiration to me. And i love your blog.
    i hope you remain connected with us henceforth and pls tell us about all the celebrations
    and BEST OF LUCK TO YOU....

  7. Nupur,
    They are such lovely paintings. I wish I were in Pune now, because at home I have a few Warli artefacts with me, which I could share (I mean the images) with you. Maybe on my next trip to India?
    By the way, the water tank reminds me of the one we had at my parents' place, sitting atop the bungalow, on the terrace (gacchi). They got it painted black when we were kids, because we used to love using it as a blackboard when doing our homework. Although my mother had bought us a huge pack of chalks, I used to flick chalks (the coloured ones) from school. ;) My younger sister used it much more than I did. (Well, I wasn't really fond of homework, you know.) My father used to call it 'Taki Abhyaas'. That tank has been replaced with two Sintex ones now, and homework is out anyway. (Thank God!)

  8. They are spectacular! Do we recognize the bride and groom, per chance? And is there a 4th side that shows a relieved-looking groom with papers in hand getting on a plane to rejoin his bride?? I keep looking around with Nupur Eyes: St Louis is sooo beautiful now! ;-)

  9. WOW..those paintings look your relatives do professional work so I can buy from them ;)?

    BTW, I did see these pics on your flickr a few days ago and was wondering when you were going to talk about them. Glad you did :).

    Amazing talent!

  10. Nupur,
    What I saw was great artwork... You always had the gift to be articulate unlike some of us around you... How are you doing? I will leave it upto you to find out who I am.... I dint know you were that big of a foodie :)

  11. yummm..tasty!! hehehe. Nice paintings! The artwork,patterns back home is so intricate and complex! I think I only realised it when I came here. No wonder tourists load them up when they visit India and I used to think,
    whats wrong with them..

  12. They are soo cute! I guess wedding theme is the current fad *wink* *wink*....

  13. Lovely! And the bright red background is a nice contrast.

  14. hi nupur, nice to relive the moments when the pictures were being made. really , all 3 of them sat thru the whole day, for days together to get this work done. grt to see the pics again.luv, yoma.

  15. Lovely!Such a lovely idea to actually do up the place in a tradtional artform like Warli....and get your family to do it..great artists there!

  16. They are lovely, Nupur.

    I have seen this type of art work before in India but didn't what they are called or the history behind them. Thanks for the link.

    Beautiful paintings and I particularly liked the combination of the deep clay color background and rice white art.

  17. Was the wedding theme meant to correspond to your special day?
    Belated Congratulations to you!!

    I have been making the usal/misal quite frequently...especially since I figured out that a cup of cooked sprouted mung is only 31 calories!! (and is so filling!!)

  18. hi nupur,
    the warli paintings are beautiful! did you know, in West Bengal too people use a paste of rice flour to create some artwork (mostly done on the floor) before an auspicious occasion? Innovative ways of using rice (since we eat so much of it anyway). I love the little themes depicted on the water tank. Thats a great idea. You guys are such a talented bunch :))

  19. Hi Nupur,
    Congratulations on your wedding!And what wonderful paintings!All the three your aunt,sister and cousin are so talented!
    Its hard to believe that its done by hand! Wow simply wonderful!
    Hey Nupur,do check my blog in which i have just posted my first recipe,Hope u like it,

  20. Oops I didnt give u the link to my blog..

  21. I just love these paintings. Glad to see you back and blogging again.

  22. Hi Shankari, thanks! Yes, this is all free-hand drawing.

    Kitchenmate...yes, very fortunate indeed!

    Hey Ashwini, so true...I can stare at them for a long time looking at the details made with simple strokes.

    Hi Manisha, the kameez sounds lovely! You should display it! My Mom also got someone to paint a Warli saree for me...I'll put up a picture of that sometime.

    Mika, I am totally lucky to have these artists in the family!

    Mahek, thanks so much :)

    Hi Vaishali, a blackboard is such a creative use of a water-tank too! Kids love scrawling on walls anyway :)

    AK, thanks! You are right on about the 4th side :) and I hope I can visit St. L soon (fingers crossed)

    Luv2cook, actually yeah they do professional work so shoot me a mail if you are interested! :) thanks for stopping by!

    Hey Born a Libran, tell me who you are oh mysterious one :)

    LG, true, Indian folk art is a true marvel!

    Nabeela...*grin* :)

    Faffer, yeah, I agree...the red really brings out the color!

    Hi Yoma, I know, the sheer effort, in the terrible heat...but I am sure you helped a lot too!

    Sailaja, thanks!

    Indira, yes, it is only in recent years that the Warli art form has gained popularity. Thanks for your comments!

    Hi AA, I'm glad usal works for is really amazing...nutritious and low-fat.

    Hey Shoots, ooh, I know what you are talking about...those rangoli-like designs are beautiful. I think they are called "alpana" am I right?

    Hi Sumitha, thanks! I'll definitely check out your blog.

    Lindy, nice to see you again...thanks for stopping by!

  23. @nupur: We met in Bombay... We became close in B'lore... We lost touch later... Enuff of a clue....

  24. Hey Nupur .. its great to have you back!! Warli paintings and mango trees and water-tanks .. lol!! I want to go to India too now during the summer!!!

    Yes Warli paintings do add a nice ethnic and informal touch to anything. One friend of mine has painted the wall of their 'compund' in this fashion .. makes it look wonderful!

  25. Born a Libran, I think your real name is Anurag I right?

    Lakshmi, Curry, SaffronHut, thanks!!

    Anya, go to India, but be prepared for soaring temps and power cuts, that's all I'm going to say :D nice to see you here again!

  26. @Nupur: Right you are... How r u doing? When r u planning to graduate (the most painful question I guess)?

  27. Hi hot stove

    I cant see your monthly archives? You havent set it?

  28. Wow! Nupur ! yes! The paintings on the Water Tank were beautiful - Your aunt is one talented lady and the stainless steel Aarthi plates with Rangoli motifs on them were equally fascinating. Sure , the kittur family is very talented - what about that cute little young girl who danced her way into everybody's hearts with that popular Aishwerya Rai Number at one of the events hosted by your wonderful parents in Kolhapur ?
    V and you are very lucky to have found each other and wish you both wedded bliss . Good luck with your theis .

    V's aunt

  29. Dear Nupur,
    the pictures are beautiful.By the way, 'Jambhool'is called ' rose apple, or java plum. The botanical name isSyzygium cumini or Eugenia Jambolana. It has two varieties, viz big oval one named 'Suva jamun'and the small round one is called'Kutta Jamun.
    Caloric Value--62 per 100 gms of edible portion. The fruit is know tobe useful in Diabetes ,liver disorders, and diarrhoea.
    Ref: 'Foods that heal'by H.K.Bakhru Orient paperbacks.
    I'll send you a oicture incase I find one.With love.

  30. Hi I m Diaz i like these pictures because it makes me feel relaxing. I like the picture in which dancers are dancing on mango leaves i wish i could see them in real.

  31. hi nupur,...
    i m rutuja , from nasik...
    i liked those paintings very much...
    they reveal our indian traditions very nicely..
    actually i have learned warli painting recently...
    i hav designed many kurtis,
    bags, etc..
    i hav a great interest in it.
    so can u do me a favour...
    if u hav some more pics on warli designs..
    pls send it to me..
    ba bye

  32. hey...u know what//i just love warli...and i actually wanted to give a personalised look to the wall beside our main door and deciced to paint warli art...but i had no clue so i googled it up..and guess what i bumped into youer blog which was quite welcome from my side..i love warli art...and thankss to helped me a great deal..

  33. hey..really the way, do you know of somebody who could make me Warli masks of the lcal tribals

  34. wow...they are too good..i too have tried my hands with warli but only on paper..

  35. hi nupur!

    lovely paintings by ur family!!!!!!!i love warli paintings too.....


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