Paintings of Maharastra

Paintings of Maharastra

  • Indian paintings provide an artistic continuum that extends from the early civilization and culture to the present day.
  • From being essentially religious in purpose in the beginning, Indian painting has evolved over the years to become a fusion of various cultures and traditions.
  • The Indian painting was exposed to Greco-Roman as well as Iranian and Chinese influences.
  • Paintings in the Indian history hold a very special place.
  • Paintings are the visual creations of many concepts.


Classification of Indian Paintings

  • Indian Paintings can be broadly classified as the mural paintings and miniature painting.
  1. Murals are huge works executed on the walls of solid structures, as in the Ajanta Caves and the Kailashnath temple. They are also called as wall paintings.
  2. Miniature paintings are executed on a very small scale on perishable material such as paper and cloth.


Ajanta Caves Mural Paintings of Maharastra

  • The Ajanta Caves imprinted out of volcanic rock in the Maharashtra Plateau, situated near Aurangabad in Maharashtra.
  • Inside many of the caves are frescoes. Frescoes are paintings which are done on wet plaster in which colours become fixed as the plaster dries after some time.
  • They are found on the walls and ceilings at Ajanta.Paintings of Maharastra
  • The Ajanta Paintings reflect different phases of Indian culture from Buddha’s birth to his Mahaparinirvana in the 8th century AD.
  • Natural colours like white, green, brown, yellow, black, and a wonderful colour of blue is found.
  • The human & animal forms show a variety of graceful poses.
  • Various methods/ practices were used to create the illusion of depth.
  • They depict themes of court life, feasting, processions, men and women at work, festivals and various natural scenes including animals, birds and flowers.
  • The place was not far off from the ancient trade routes & attracted traders & pilgrims through whom the Ajanta art style diffused as far as China & Japan.


Warli Paintings of Maharastra

  • Warli painting derives its name from a small tribe inhabiting the remote, tribal regions of Maharashtra.
  • These are decorative paintings on floors and walls of ‘gond’ and ‘kol’ tribes’ homes and places of worship.
  • Trees, birds, men and women collaborate to create an amalgamated whole in a Warli painting.
  • These paintings are made mostly by the women as part of their routine at auspicious celebrations.
  • Subjects are predominantly religious with simple and local materials like white colour and rice paste and local vegetable glue on a plain contrasting background, made in geometric patterns like squares, triangles, and circles.
  • Dots and crooked lines are the units of this composition.
  • Flora and fauna and people’s routine life also form a part of the painted.
  • The paintings are expanded by adding subject after subject in a spiraling manner.
  • The rhythm of the Warli way of life is beautifully captured in simple images.
  • Unlike other tribal art forms, Warli paintings do not employ religious iconography and is a more secular art form.
  • The language of Warlis contains many Sanskrit, Gujrati, Marathi and Hindi Words.
  • Among the Sanskrit words Dhartari or Dharitri (earth), Gayatri (Cow), Sura (liquor), Maniya (Man) and Pavana (wind). Warli also have their own archaic tongue which can still be distinguished by words like Valuk (cucumber), Vepar (to cook), Lisan (ladder), Bahara (broom), and Lothi (young girl).


Hand Block Paintings of Maharastra

  • The practitioners of this craft in Maharashtra are mainly migrants from other parts of India.
  • The painting is done with delicately carved wooden and brass blocks.
  • The cloth on which hand-printing is done is either hand-woven silk or mill-made chiffon cloth.
  • The results are multi-colour designs in traditional patterns. The ‘Tree of Life’ motif is very widely used.


Chitaris/Folk Paintings of Maharastra

  • Chitaris is the Marathi word for a painter. A large number of chitaris settled in Nagpur, drawn there by the liberal patronage of the rulers of the Bhonsale dynasty who celebrated Hindu customs and traditions with great pomp and reverence.
  • These chitaris made their homes in the Mahal areas of Nagpur and even today their descendants are found to be living there in a lane known as Chitari Oli.
  • The chitaris’ work consists of making objects required during Hindu festivals.
  • The rituals connected with them often require readymade artefacts in wood, clay, and paper.
  • Ganpati has a special significance and the chitaris produce clay images for installation during the Ganpati festival.
  • Over the years changing tastes have lead to a decline in the demand for their work. Today there are only a few families practising in Nagpur.
  • They have now taken to various types of decoration work, including contracts for erecting decorative gates in the city during festivals and marriage decorations.
  • The chitaris work throughout the year except in the summer months when they turn their hand to making marriage platforms and bowlas or conical temple-shaped pavilions for marriages.
  • Different chitaris specialise in different forms and products. Some specialise in the making of three-dimensional idols, chiefly of Ganpati.
  • During the slack seasons they cater to the city shops by creating mannequin figures for draping garments for display.
  • Another group specialises in pata-chitra or paintings on paper and cloth.
  • Among the popular subjects are the jiwti-pata, gajalaxmi-pata, and the nagpanchami-pata.
  • Yet another category of chitaris makes rupdas or the paper masks for Ramlila dramas.
  • During marriages the chitaris are also invited to decorate the facades of the houses with representation of Ganesh, his consorts Riddhi-Siddhi, horse- and elephant-riders, and floral border


Chitrakatha or the Paithani Paintings of Maharastra

  • The nomadic Chitrakatha Community tells stories from the Puranas, legends and mythological folklore through vibrant paintings on leaves.
  • It consists of 20 or more paintings portraying one story kept in a bundle known as “pothi”. Resembling the puppets, the Chitrakatha or Paithani paintings reflects the expressions and the stories of the region from which the storyteller hails from.
  • Chitrakathi is mainly performed on special occasions in the temples of the Konkan region in the state of Maharashtra.
  • The oral stories inspired from the famous epics like Ramayana, Puranas and Mahabharata, are performed in a kirtan style using folk instruments like the veena, dholki along with the hand- made paintings depicting the events and characters from the transcripts.


Common Feature of Tribal Paintings of Maharastra

Wall Painting (The Warlc wall paintings of Maharashtra, India)

  • The tradition of wall paintings has been passed down from pre-historic times to today.
  • As society moved from forest dwellings to agricultural-based communities, the art of painting continued as a part of their life, tradition, culture and to transmit their traditional beliefs through their art.
  • Wall painting forms part of the universal culture of most agricultural societies and forest dwelling societies.
  • Paintings are done on walls to invoke the gods to bless the soil, keep animals healthy for work in the field, grant a family healthy progeny after marriage, and bless a newly constructed home.
  • Paintings found on the walls of religious buildings depict a human quest to understand a larger universe, natural life and power.


Current tradition of wall painting in Various Tribal Regions


  • In a wall painting or mural, the ground is the wall or the stone of the cave. Paint is applied on to the wall plaster. To bind the paint to the plaster the colours are often put on wet plaster so that it fuses with it.
  • In many tribal region and villages in India women apply wet lime paint to the dry mud walls. Lime is a natural disinfectant and prevents ants and termites inhabiting the walls.
  • As they use no adhesive the paint flakes and has to be redone every season, especially after the monsoons just before Dussehra and Diwali.
  • Wall painting also done during ceremonial function like Marriage.


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