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Ten amazing Indian Folk Art forms you need to know

India is a land of rich cultural diversity with more than 2500 tribes and ethnic groups. The tribal groups in India are blessed with an outstanding talent to create a matchless form of folk art. Folk art is an indigenous form of art that is created by a particular class of artisans and peasants reflecting the tribe’s culture. Capturing stories in folk art has been a common practice since ages. Folk art form has a variety of distinctive paintings that are not only exotic, but also represent a rich historical perspective. The most distinctive characteristic of folk art is the use of natural materials and creative techniques. Let’s have a glimpse over India’s amazing folk art forms:

Saura Art

A jungle tribe with a distinct culture, Saura is found in Orissa, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. Based on the concept of ‘Tree of Life’, Saura paintings convey the beautiful relationship between man and environment. The artist use a fish-net approach, creating the border first, and then moving inwards to draw the patterns.

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Bhil Art

Bhil is one of the largest tribe of India and is found in Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Maharashtra. Drawing inspiration from the powerful archer, Ekalavya of Mahabharata, Bhil art portrays tribal life and natural phenomenas like changing seasons, sun, moon, animals, trees, rivers and mythological figures. Bhil artist use herbal colors and vegetable dyes made from kumkum, haldi, kajal, rice, mehendi etc that reflects the tribal creativity and talent.

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Miniature Painting

As the name suggests, miniature paintings refer to paintings that are small in size but portray fine detailing and expression. Miniature paintings flourished under Shah Jahan and Akbar’s rule in 16th century and are now popularly practiced in Rajasthan. The main characteristic of the miniature paintings is the intricate brushwork and colorful motifs embellished with semi-precious stones, conch shells, gold and silver dust.

Cheriyal Scroll Painting

Cheriyal paintings are stylized version of Nakkashi art. Cheriyal, a small village, in Andhra Pradesh, is home to one of the most beautiful surviving artistic culture.The 3 feet long Cheriyal painting is done on Khadi cotton cloth which is treated with rice starch, suddha matti (white mud), boiled tamarind seeds and gum water. The painting brush used has squirrel’s hair on it, which portrays beautiful patterns depicting ancient Indian mythology, literature, folk traditions, and even simple rural life.

Bengal Pat

The indigenous art from Bengal developed hundreds of years back when roaming minstrels used to sing life incidents and tragedies, and started depicting them on cloth scrolls for beatification and preservation. Bengal Pat depicts regressive social set up in a very satirical manner where housewives are painted protecting themselves with a broomstick and women flying up high inside a balloon. These paintings also portray historical figures like Rani Lakshmibai, Jhansi ki Rani dressed up in Mughal style.

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Warli Art

An ancient tribe inhabiting the states of Gujarat and Maharashtra, Warli’s are known for their rudimentary wall painting that reflects thousands of years of old tradition .The striking feature of Warli art is that of a human shape, a circle and two triangles. The geometrical patterns represent life and activities like hunting, fishing, farming, festivals and dances. A bamboo stick is used as the paint brush, and white color (made of rice paste) is used for making shapes against a dark colored background. Sometimes cow dung and geru (red earth) is used for earthy background.

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Gond Art

Inspired from nature, Gond paintings show fine dots and intricate lines revealing finesse and hard work of the craftsmen. Gondi tribe is the largest tribe of Madhya Pradesh with a history of over 4000 years old. People decorate their houses with this art form to ward off evil and bring in good luck and prosperity. Gond art use colors made from charcoal, cow dung, leaves and colored soil to create bold and vibrant patterns that depicts mainly flora and fauna.


Pata means vastra or clothing, and chitra means painting. The special art form was developed in Orissa in 5th century BC. Patachitra starts on fine gauze like cloth where the painter uses tamarind paste, chalk powder and gum. After getting dried, marvelous designs are portrayed on it using natural dyes. A plethora of paintings can be seen in magnificent Indian temples of Puri, Konark and Bhubaneswar.

Madhubani painting

The folk painting of Bihar is known as Madhubani painting or Maithili painting, These paintings are done with fingers, twigs, brushes, nib-pens and matchsticks, and use natural dyes and pigments like turmeric, soot, cow dung, indigo, rice powder, sandalwood and rose. An interesting feature of this art form is that the artist aim to cover every possible inch of the canvas with spectacular patterns, filling the gaps with flowers, animals, birds and geometric designs.

Phad Art

Originated in Rajasthan, Phad is mainly a religious form of scroll painting. Phad is a 30- or 15 feet-long canvas or cloth representing stories of life and heroic deeds of folk deities like Pabuji or Devnarayan.

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