Tribal Arts of India: 10 Types of Tribal Paintings in India

India has always been known for its art and architecture. The history of India in terms of art is very immense. Almost every state has its art which has its speciality. And the art by tribal communities of India is the most vibrant. These tribal arts were rich in symbolic aspects as they had very specific rituals and characteristics. Let's find out more about these tribal arts.

Here are some Tribal Arts of India:
  • Warli Folk Paintings
  • Tanjore Paintings or Thanjavur Paintings
  • Madhubani Art
  • Saura Paintings
  • Bhil Art
  • Gond
  • Pattachitra Paintings
  • Kalamazethu Art
  • Khovar Art
  • Kavad or Kawad Art

1. Warli Folk Paintings

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Belonging to the state of Maharashtra, this tribal art is famous for its elementary wall paintings. It is one of the finest examples of folk paintings. In this, basic geometrical shapes are used such as- square, circle, triangle. These paintings are carved in white colour (bamboo used as a brush) on a dark red coloured background. The painting portrays hunting, festivals, fishing, farming, dancing and other scenes of daily life. 

2. Tanjore Painting or Thanjavur Painting

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Originating from the town of Thanjavur in the state of Tamil Nadu, this tribal art is a celebration of the region's rich artistic tradition. This art was first developed in the late 16th century. This classical South-Indian painting style is famous for their use of vibrant colours, glass, stones and gold foils in the work. They are made on a wooden board which is made either from teak wood or jackfruit. These paintings mostly depict Hindu Gods and Goddesses. The faces of the deity are made such that they have a round face, oval-shaped eyes. After this, the main body of the deity is enclosed using an arch, curtain, etc.

3. Madhubani Art

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Madhubani is an Indian art formed by the women of Mithila. Also referred to as Mithila art, it is originated from Bihar. The paintings are made on freshly plastered mud walls, which generally depicts nature or religious intent. It involves pictures of Shiva, Krishna, Saraswati, Rama, Durga, Sun, Moon, trees, flowers, animals, wedding scenes etc. The painting is completed using brushes, twigs, fingers, match-sticks with natural dyes and pigments etc. The main aim of this painting is to cover every inch, gaps with all possible patterns, shapes, designs.

4. Saura Paintings

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Saura is a style of mural paintings which is related to the Saura tribe of Odisha. These paintings also originated from the state of Orissa but it is also found in the states of Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Jharkhand. They are also called Ikons. The backdrop of the painting is prepared from red or yellow ochre which is painted using brush and bamboo. Very simple figures are used which depict the simple yet meaningful everyday life of a village farmer. These paintings are similar to Warli paintings. The only difference between the two is the use of geometrical figures. These paintings are drawn during marriage, child-birth or any other special occasion.

5. Bhil Art


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Bhils are the second largest tribal community of India. Bhil art is also given by them. Originating from the states of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra. This art unveils the life of Bhils themself. This tribe used dots to depict life in vibrant colours. They try to connect their art and paintings with their Gods, Goddesses and nature. This includes carving of the Sun, Moon, nature, Gods, etc. from natural and herbal colours on walls or paper. One can easily understand the story behind the painting. 

6. Gond

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Originated from the state of Madhya Pradesh and nearby states, this art is carved on the mud walls. These paintings are rich in details, lines, colours, mystery and humour. These paintings are also drawn on paper, canvas, cloths etc. In these paintings, lines, dots and dashes are important features. This painting is drawn during major festivals such as Holi, Diwali, etc. These paintings are so good in quality that they can last for about 20 years even without any tampering.

7. Pattachitra Painting

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Pattachitra paintings are traditional paintings which originated from Odisha and West Bengal. It is a cloth-based painting which portrays Gods and Goddesses, made of sharp and fine lines in bold colours, floral designs in borders. In olden days, these paintings were used as story-telling. What makes this art different from others is the way clothes are depicted. These paintings are carved on “Patta” which means canvas. It is one of the oldest tribal art in India. It is said that an original Pattachitra painting is made from 100% natural colours and can take even months to complete. 

8. Kalamezhuthu Art

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Kalamezhuthu art is a ritual art of God’s own country- Kerala. “Kalam” means picture and “ezhuthu” means drawing. This is a painting done on the floor and it can be seen during festivals and special occasions. It has its way of drawing. First, the sacred deity is created, during which various remedies are taken into consideration, such as, deity, natural pigment, dimensions, colour choice, etc. After this, he is worshipped and songs are sung in praise of him. Finally, the drawing is erased by dancing on it through ritual steps.

9. Khovar Art

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This traditional wall art is done in the harvest season. The word Kho or Koh means cave and Var means husband. This matriarchal art is done by the women of the house to decorate the wedding chambers of newlywed couples. Khovar art originated from Jharkhand. The backdrop is prepared by firstly applying a coat of black mud and then followed by applying a coat of white mud. After this, a tool is used to peel the coating and give the desired design. Usually, tribal people living in the forest carve animals like, Tiger, Snake, Peacock, etc. while those living on plains carve Cow, Goat, Pigeon, etc.   

10. Kavad or Kawad Art

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Kavad or Kawad art of Rajasthan is around 500 years old art which is practised by Jangid Brahmins of Chittorgarh. It is a three-dimensional box which has multiple panels that can be unfolded. It is a portable temple in which various Gods and Goddesses are painted. These panels are made of light wood and depict stories of epics like Ramayana, Puranas, Bhagavad Gita and many more.

It's a matter of great pride that the Tribal Arts of India are still practised in many places and people have kept it alive today even after so many years.

This post was published by Jahnvi Sharma

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