Warli art beckons you

If you wish to have a look at a Warli painting without going to Maharashtra, you can see it on the walls of the Government High School at Chimangala in the Shidlaghatta taluk of Chikkaballapur district.

The most common notion about government schools is that the buildings are in poor conditions, the paint old and peeling off the walls. But here is a government school that challenges such a view with scenes of a rural life in Warli style; a farmer ploughing the field, children playing, women working with the grinding stone in front of their huts.

At the request of a teacher in the school, Nagaraj, the drawing teacher at the Government High School, Gidnahalli of Chikkaballapur taluk, took to improving the looks of the Chimangala School.

Warli painting is native to the Adivasis or indigenous tribes of Maharashtra. The Warlis have traditionally painted their walls, which are coated with dung and clay, using a paste of rice. Being a tribal community, the Warlis have always reflected their connection to nature in their paintings.

The figures are mostly geometrical  structures; circles, squares and triangles. While the triangle is inspiredby the hills and the trees around them, the circle reflects the sun and the moon.

Also, since agriculture is the primary occupation of the Warlis, their paintings too are mostly depictions of work on an agricultural field.

In addition, however, one can also find pictures of a hunt, festivities, dances, and celebrations of various kinds.

As everything else in society, Warli paintings too are taking a ‘modern’ turn. The combination of dung and clay is being replaced by paints of the same colour, while the rice paste is making way for white acrylic.

Also, from being used only on the walls of the tribals’ huts, the paintings have moved on to dresses, coffee mugs and pen stands, among other artefacts.

Having spread their wings in all directions, Warli paintings have now reached the walls of the Chimangala School.

“We invited Nagaraj as we felt it would be good if the students developed an interest in art and drawing, inspired by his work. Art on the walls of the school has also helped us in making learning interesting for the students. It would be good to speak to them about the paintings themselves,” says S Shivashankar, headmaster of the school.

Commending Nagaraj’s efforts, the headmaster says, “Painting the walls all over the school building is definitely a strenuous job. It takes a lot of time and effort. Yet, Nagaraj has decked up the walls of our school, demanding nothing in return. We were glad to have at least honoured him in gratitude.”

(Translated by Chitra Phalguni)