What Is the History of Warli Art?

Art|Art History

Warli art is one of the oldest and most iconic forms of tribal art from India. It is believed to be the oldest form of Indian folk art, with some cave paintings believed to date back to 2500 BC. Warli art originated in the Warli tribe, which is a group of people living in the northern part of Maharashtra state in India. The Warlis are descendants of ancient nomadic hunter-gatherers who are still living in the same region today.

The Warlis have a very unique form of painting which they use to depict their daily life and rituals. This form of painting is called Warli art and it is often referred to as ‘the language without words’. The paintings are done on mud walls and floors in homes and temples, as well as on paper and canvas.

The main theme in Warli art is the celebration of nature and its cycles. The paintings depict humans, animals, plants, trees and other symbols that represent everyday life for the Warlis.

They also include images of important tribal ceremonies such as weddings and festivals. Nature forms a large part of these paintings with trees, mountains and rivers being featured prominently.

The colours used in Warli art are mainly white, red, yellow ochre and black which are made from natural pigments derived from charcoal or soil. These colours symbolise various aspects such as fertility or death. The shapes used in the paintings also have special meanings associated with them such as circles representing unity or triangles representing strength.

The popularity of Warli art has grown over the years due to its simplicity yet powerful aesthetic appeal. It has been embraced by many modern artists who have adapted this traditional style into their own works. Today, it can be seen everywhere from contemporary galleries to local markets.


Warli art is an ancient form of tribal Indian folk art that has evolved over centuries into a powerful visual representation of everyday life for the Warlis. Its distinctive style incorporating bold lines and vivid colours has seen it embraced by artists around the world as an artistic expression that transcends cultural boundaries.