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Updated by Rajashri Venkatesh on Oct 04, 2014
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12 Most Amazing Folk Paintings Of India

What most people don't know about India is it's rich traditional heritage! Every state in India has it's own history and a unique form of art and culture. Here is a list of amazing folk art and painting styles of India.

Warli Folk Painting

Maharashtra is known for its Warli folk paintings. Warli is the name of the largest tribe found on the northern outskirts of Mumbai, in Western India. Despite being in such close proximity of the largest metropolis in India, Warli tribesmen shun all influences of modern urbanization. Warli Art was first discovered in the early seventies. While there are no records of the exact origins of this art, its roots may be traced to as early as the 10th century A.D. Warli is the vivid expression of daily and social events of the Warli tribe of Maharashtra, used by them to embellish the walls of village houses. This was the only means of transmitting folklore to a populace not acquainted with the written word. This art form is simple in comparison to the vibrant paintings of Madhubani.

Phad Paintings

Phad Paintings are a folk painting style from Rajasthan, India. These paintings were and still are a part of an elaborate ritualistic song and dance performance by folk balladeers that travel from village to village performing folk epics. The paintings provide the backdrop against which the songs, dances and narrations are used to create an evening of magic and entertainment usually in the centre of the village.
Each painting depicts a different episode and they are opened or unrolled only after sundown, in conjunction with an all night performance. This is possibly why these paintings are called Phad which means folds in local dialect.

Gond Art

Painted Stories’ is what the tribal art form of the Pardhan Gond’s is popularly known as. Originally painted as symbols of good fortune on the walls of the Gond dwellings, this fabulous art-form has now found a uniquely contemporary expression in brilliant acrylic hues on paper and canvas. Gond art, in an almost literal sense then, is the translation of these songs into images of good fortune

Tanjore Paintings, Arts, Portraits from South India

Tanjore (or Thanjavur or Thanjavoor) paintings have a very rich heritage. This style of painting has been followed widely by the people in Southern Tamil Nadu for the past two centuries. The paintings are notable for their adornment in the form of semi-precious stones, pearls, glass pieces and gold. The rich vibrant colors, dashes of gold, semi-precious stones and fine artistic work are characteristics of these paintings. They add beauty and culture to a variety of surroundings and décor. The paintings are mostly of Gods and Goddesses because this art of painting flourished at a time when fine-looking and striking temples were being constructed by rulers of several dynasties. The figures in these paintings are large and the faces are round and divine.

Kerala mural painting

Kerala mural paintings are the frescos depicting mythology and legends, which are drawn on the walls of temples and churches in South India, principally in Kerala. Ancient temples, churches and palaces in Kerala, South India, display an abounding tradition of mural paintings mostly dating back between the 9th to 12th centuries CE when this form of art enjoyed Royal patronage.

Kalamkari

Kalamkari work is a very popular and ancient art work in India that refers to the method of painting natural dyes in fabrics that range from cotton to silk, with the help of a pen or 'kalam'. This kind of a fabric decoration was a significant product of trade and commerce in ancient India, the main focus of which was in Andhra Pradesh. The centers of kalamkari work in Andhra Pradesh are Sri Kalahasti and Machilipatnam.

Kalighat painting

Kalighat painting or Kalighat Pat originated in the 19th century Bengal, in the vicinity of Kalighat Kali Temple, Kalighat, Kolkata, India, and from being items of souvenir taken by the visitors to the Kali temple, the paintings over a period of time developed as a distinct school of Indian painting. From the depiction of Hindu gods, goddesses, and other mythological characters, the Kalighat paintings developed to reflect a variety of themes.

Madhubani Paintings

Madhubani painting, also known as Mithila painting is done with fingers, nib-pens, twigs, and matchsticks. The eye catching paintings are for every occasion and festivals. Most of the Madhubani paintings depict men and its association with nature, and scenes & deity from ancient epics.

Patachitra Paintings

Patachitra or the icon paintings of Orissa occupy an important status among the many art forms centered around the temple of Puri. For the painted surface, the chitrakar community of painters utilises a gauze like fine cotton cloth, coated with a cooked solution of powdered tamarind seed, chalk and gum and subsequently smoothened.

Chittara Paintings

Chittara drawings are intricate patterns, that represent the auspicious ceremony and rituals of life, symbolized in geometric patterns. This requires a certain understanding of ratios and proportions, which the women of the community have been using with great dexterity. This folk art was and still is a part of their day-to-day life. It was never a profession, but a practice that has artistic and socio-cultural value.

Miniature Paintings

Miniatures paintings are beautiful handmade paintings, which are quite colorful but small in size. The highlight of these paintings is the intricate and delicate brushwork, which lends them a unique identity. The colors are handmade, from minerals, vegetables, precious stones, indigo, conch shells, pure gold and silver. The most common theme of the Miniature painting of India comprises of the Ragas i.e., the musical codes of Indian classical music. There were a number of miniature schools in the country, including those of Mughals, Rajputs and the Deccan.