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Krishna's Childhood
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Samudra Manthan  - Churning of the Ocean ( narrated in the Bhagavata Purana)
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Patanjali
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Samudra Manthan (Churning of the Ocean)
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Hayagriva Avatar (Horse Incarnation) of Vishnu
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Amrit Manthan
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Indian Folk Painting

Folk painting is assuredly the oldest traditional art still being created in India. The earliest examples - images of animals and hunters found on rock shelters in the region of modern Bhopal in central India - date back more than seven thousand years. The Indian folk paintings presented here still carry the lively imprint of ancient and inventive minds. Folk Paintings are living traditions, which can be classified into two categories: those that are executed on ritual occasions for the express purpose of "installing" a deity, and those that are essentially narrative in character, the themes of narration being primarily from the ancient Indian epics. These may be executed on a wall (bhitti-chitra), on a canvas (pata-chitra), and on the floor (bhumi-chitra).' Sometimes the twin functions of Indian folk painting, the magico-religious ritual and narration, overlap.


Indian Folk Paintings: The Art of Magic Diagrams


"Magic diagrams", or auspicious symbols, outlined on the floor, in rice paste and/or coloured powder are executed by women almost all over India, form the major iconography of India folk paintings. These designs are known as kolam in South India, mandana in Rajasthan, rangoli in Maharashtra, sathiya in Gujarat, alpona in Bengal, aripana in Bihar, apna in the western Himalayas, chowka purna and sona rakhna in Uttar Pradesh, osa in Orissa and aripona in other parts of northern India. These line drawings are potent receptacles of cosmic powers that are essentially benevolent and protective in nature.


Ornamentation in Indian Folk Painting:


Folk painters in India have employed traditional ornamentation in their work. They have done so not so much to beautify their paintings but to more fully express their devotion to their deities. While Indian folk artists have created works pleasing in color and design, in no instances have they intended to make paintings "for art's sake" or for aesthetic reasons alone, that is, primarily to be put on a wall or other support and admired as beautiful visual form. An enormous stylistic range is evident among the traditions and types of Indian folk painting presented here, from bare essential contours to painstaking, miniature-like rendering of details to the precise, geometrized figural abstractions reminiscent of India's prehistoric painting. It is the goal of this collection of Indian folk painting to capture something of the amazing spectra of the etarnal tradition of Indian folk art, and to provide a framework for understanding its motives and iconography. Folk Paintings have been selected here for their aesthetic appeal as well as for their representative value, and, wherever possible, to show the evolution of a tradition and even the contrasts within it.


FAQs


Q1. How many types of folk paintings are there in India?


India has a variety of folk paintings such as Kalamkari of Andhra Pradesh, Madhubani of Bihar, Warli of Maharashtra, God painting of Central India, and Pattachitra of Orissa which display the rich cultural heritage of these states in unique artistic styles.


Q2. What is folk art in painting in India?


Folk art in Indian painting represents the art of folk or people, and is characterized by vibrant colors, unique patterns, and the preparation of a colorful canvas that presents the stories, beliefs, and practices of tribal and indigenous people, that form the core of their socio-cultural lives.


Q3. What makes a painting folk art?


Though every folk painting in the Indian context has a distinct and unparalleled style, certain features that make a painting "folk" are- the use of eye-catching colors and bold designs, the emphasis laid on the meaning that the art carries instead of creating a classical aesthetic, and narration of stories that come from everyday life of the people. The art of folk painting is done by amateur and self-taught artists and does not adhere to any written rules of art and aesthetics.


Q4. Which is the oldest form of folk art?


The oldest form of folk art in the context of India and the world are the intriguing artworks done inside the cave shelters of Stone Age societies. These paintings are commonly known as cave paintings and are believed to represent the ritualistic ideas of hunting-gathering societies, with the use of interesting forms painted using naturally derived colors.


Q5. What are the typical characteristics of folk paintings?


A folk painting can be identified with the following typical characteristics-

 

  • Use of simple lines and patterns- Folk painters used simple outlines and geometrical or natural patterns in their artworks and refrained from using complicated designs.

  • Vibrant colors - Colors obtained from natural sources are used in folk paintings and most of these colors have an eye-catching, bright appearance that gives folk art its identifiable charm.

  • Symbolism - A folk painting shows more concern to convey an idea or belief, rather than creating a complex visual representation. Thus, with simple lines and geometrical patterns, a folk painting can represent occult, ancient and potent ideas.

  • Storytelling - the Indigenous culture of India is replete with stories and legends which are recreated on canvases of Indian folk paintings, which are beautiful examples of a long tradition of artistic visual narratives.


Q6. What makes folk arts unique?


Indian folk paintings are unique and valued the world over because they represent an artistic preservation of folklore, beliefs, legends, and culture of a people by generations that pass on the technique and sensibility of creating folk art through non-literate means. Though not created directly for the modern commercialized market, folk paintings are well-established in the international art market due to their distinct qualities. 


Q7. What is the folk style of painting?


Folk style of painting is a particular group of art forms in India that are created by indigenous groups to present their customs, traditions, and lifestyles through striking patterns and colors, on items of everyday use, walls, clothes, and wood. Bright shades, simple patterns, a discernible storyline, and ample use of symbolism characterize a folk painting. 


Q8. What is folk art inspired by?


Folk art draws its inspiration from the everyday, mundane sceneries, cultural events, and natural and man-made environment. Flora and fauna, festive gatherings, activities of daily life and natural phenomena, and religious or cultural beliefs and practices form some of the most popular subjects of folk art. Using simple designs and natural colors, folk artists attempt to create an order in the world that surrounds them, by putting it on their canvases. 


Q9. Are folk paintings handmade paintings?


Yes, folk paintings are handmade paintings, created by self-taught artists from indigenous groups, using easy-to-draw patterns and colors derived from natural sources to tell rich stories about their lives, culture, and beliefs.


Q10. What does folk art represent?


Folk art represents the cultural, religious, and material beliefs of a group of people that hail from a particular geographical location or cultural region. Ideas and perceptions of indigenous people related to nature, gods, and everyday life find an expression in folk art through symbols and visual storytelling.


Q11. What is important about folk art?


Folk art encapsulates within itself the ancient and powerful beliefs and practices of a society which is at the root of their collective existence in a tribe, village, or cultural region. It is a method of representing the perception of surroundings shared by a society, in which art is created with a particular purpose and not for the sake of aesthetic experience only.