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,
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.
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
of Maharashtra, God
painting of Central India, and Pattachitra of
Orissa which display the rich cultural heritage of these states in unique
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
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-
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.
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