The "folk" paintings are living
traditions, intrinsically linked with the regional historical and cultural
settings of the regions of their origin. The following are some of the
well-known styles of folk-paintings in India:
The technique of painting cloth
with a pointed bamboo called kalam or pen is known as Kalamkari.
Kalamkari is almost an industry in Andhra Pradesh. Black outlines of the
pattern are painted onto the cloth, which is then given other colours like
yellow, blue and green. Motifs may range from Hindu deities, the sun and
flowers, to Biblical themes and even corporate logos.
PATNA KALAM ART
This unique genre of miniature art was promoted by Akbar and adopted by the
British during the early 19th century. Patna Kalam reigned supreme in the
realm of Indian art for well over 187 years, beginning 1760. The Patna
Kalam Art was an independent school of painting that dealt exclusively with
themes of a common man and his lifestyle. It was a
experiment in painting in the sense that these paintings were neither the known
Indian types nor British. These watercolour-based works were essentially
court paintings of Mughal and British durbars. This art form was first promoted
by two painters Nohar and Manohar in Mughal emperor Akbar's court. In the
contemporary times, late Ishwari Prasad Verma was recognised artist of this
genre of paintings.
The ancient tradition of scroll
painting survives in Rajasthan as Phad. A phad is a long
rectangular cloth painting that tells of the adventures and travails of Pabuji,
a local hero or other epic heroes. Usually about five metres by one and a half
metres in size, the phad is painted in bold colours and is rolled on two
shafts of bamboo, thus making it easy to carry. Painted by the Joshis of
Shahpura, they have been used for centuries as a backdrop by Bhopas or
the bards of Rajasthan who go from village to village singing about the exploits
of legendary heroes. Scrolls of classical subjects like Bhagawata Purana
or popular stories like Surdas's Saptaloka Ajara Amara Arms and Jain
Patas and Tantric Kundali patris and Janma-patris were also
prepared from earlier times.
The Pichwais are cloth
paintings that unfold scenes from the life of Lord Krishna
and are used as a backdrop for his idol at the Nathdwara Temple, near Udaipur,
Rajasthan. They have deep religious roots and are devotionally rendered by the
painters. Today, the Pichwais that are being painted in Udaipur and Nathdwara
make colourful decorative hangings in urban homes.
Tangkhas are silk
painted scrolls executed in vegetable and mineral dyes on canvas and framed by
silk brocade especially woven to look like the traditional Chinese brocades.
These scrolls are painted by young Tibetan monks and trained lay artists. These
are actually ritual paintings displayed only during certain festivals and
generally depict the mystical panorama of Tibetan Buddhism and the mythology and
lives of Buddhist gods and Bodhisattavas.
discovered in the early 70s on the walls of the mud houses are a unique art form
of the Adivasi Warli tribes of Maharashtra. These paintings, which are done with
ground rice flour, have a fine symmetry and are characterized by the meticulous
use of colour, usually the red of the earth, the dark blue of indigo, sometimes
deep green, saffron of turmeric, set against black, maroon, cream or beige
background. Stick-like figures of people, animals and trees form a loose
rhythmic pattern across the wall. The figures describe the everyday life of the
people. Traditional values and superstitions are predominantly visible. The
paintings are very repetitive and highly symbolic. A number of Warli paintings
are representative of Palghat, their marriage god.