A Warli painting
A Warli painting

Bhopal: Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Manav Sangrahalaya (IGRMS) has portrayed Warli House, a symbol of protective living of Warli tribe on its official website and social media pages with basic information and photographs and videos.

It is part of its 33rd online exhibition, which began from Thursday. The house of the Warli tribe has been installed at open air exhibition gallery. The tribe lives in Dahanu, Talsari, Jawahar, Palghar and Mokhada talukas of Thane district, some parts of Nashik and Dhule districts of Maharashtra. They are spread up to Valsad districts of Gujarat and union territories of Dadra, Nagar Haveli.

Museum director Praveen Kumar Mishra said Warli is derived from the word warul means piece of land Warlis are mostly agriculturists. Fishing and poultry farming are their secondary occupation. The Warli customs and traditions are weaved around nature.

The house consists of a simple earthen foundation and is square in shape. Before construction, rituals are performed to ward off evil elements followed by special worship.

Warli houses are built with plastered mud walls made of karvi and supple bamboo. The floor of the house is plastered with cow dung. Mud is used for plinth, flooring and grinding. They commonly use palm leaves and paddy straw for thatching which keeps the houses considerably cool during summer. The roof never leaks in spite of heavy monsoon.

According to Mishra, the houses are not just a shelter but a symbol of protective living. A central wooden pillar symbolises the eternal connection of the sun and the earth. It is also associated with a belief in the formation of a family. On the top, there is an attic used for storage. Houses are mostly east facing. As they keep animals inside the house for good care, there is an additional door, but there is no window. During the sowing season, rain deities Naran Dev, Himai Devi and Hirva, the domestic god, are worshipped.

Museum assistant keeper Sudeepa Roy said Warli tribe is famous for painting and holds a special place in Indian art. Their lifestyle, culture, agricultural activities like sowing and reaping and celebrations are kept alive in the form of Warli painting. Most famous and unique form of Warli painting is chouk: all the married women of the family called Suhasinis make the chouk painting, essentially consisting of Palgahat Devi- the Goddess of fertility.

On weddings, married women prepare white paste for this purpose by grinding the rice. The wall is made fine and smooth with cow dung over which geru (red mud) is smeared. After smearing square is made. Without painting, the wedding cannot take place. The chouk is made in the houses of bride and groom.

Warli painting in the making
Warli painting in the making

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