What Is Indian Folk Art? The Different Types of Indian Art

What Is Indian Folk Art? The Different Types of Indian Art

What is commonly referred to as "Indian folk art" actually encompasses a wide variety of artistic and cultural practices unique to the country's rural and indigenous groups.

Visual arts such as painting and sculpture, material arts like weaving and ceramics, and performing arts like music and dance all fall under this category. They are distinguished by their use of color, geometry, and symbolism to tell a tale.

The daily lives, beliefs, and rituals of the community are typically reflected in Indian folk art, which has strong ties to its historical context. What's even more impressive about Indian culture is how art is incorporated into every facet of daily life, from marriage and weddings to spirituality and health.

What Is Indian Folk Art?

Indian folk art is defined primarily by its commitment to and celebration of the community's cultural heritage. It frequently reflects the customs, beliefs, and daily activities of the people who created it.

Each new artist adds their own unique spin to the folk art tradition as it is passed down through the generations.

Aside from its rich symbolism, Indian folk art is also distinguished by its use of bright colors, striking patterns, and intricate ornamentation. Paintings and sculptures are the most well-known and widely-seen examples of Indian Folk Art.

What Influenced Indian Folk Art?

The geography, history, and tradition of the region in which an Indian folk art piece is created all have a role in shaping the complete outcome. The following are only a few of the most significant inspirations for Indian folk art:


Traditional Indian artwork frequently reflects the spiritual traditions of the country. Temple murals and sculptures, for example, often represent gods and goddesses and scenes from religious literature because of their intimate ties to religious traditions.

The religious beliefs of the Indian people, including Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Islam, have had a significant impact on the presentation and craftsmanship of traditional items and works of folk art.


The natural world serves as a major inspiration for Indian folk art. Scenes from nature, such as animals, plants, and landscapes, are frequently shown in Indian artwork. Two examples are the Madhubani paintings of Bihar and the Warli paintings of Maharashtra.


The socioeconomic conditions of a community can play a part in influencing its folk art. The Phad paintings of Rajasthan are just one example of a genre of art that depicts everyday life in the region, from daily rituals to major holidays.


Fable events frequently serve as inspiration for works of folk art. Of them, the Pattachitra paintings of Odisha represent scenes from Hindu mythology and the life of Hindu gods and goddesses, while the Kalamkari fabrics of Andhra Pradesh depict stories from the Hindu epics the Ramayana and the Mahabharata.

Elements and Characteristics of Indian Folk Art

Folk art in India varies widely from region to region. The traditions, history, and geography of a certain location inform its unique aesthetics, methods, and motifs. However, there are a few constants in Indian traditional art, such as:

  • Colorful Designs: Indian folk art is well-known for its use of vibrant, eye-catching hues. Natural plant, fruit, and mineral dyes are commonly used by artists because of their wide color palette potential.
  • Forms are generally simplified and stylized in folk art, rather than being faithful depictions of the world. Because of this, the artist is better able to get their point through or tell their tale.
  • Indian folk art is frequently full of allegory. Animals, plants, and even geometric shapes are just some of the symbols used by artists to get their points through. Stories and messages are frequently depicted in Indian folk art, which functions as a narrative form. The Phad paintings of Rajasthan, for example, represent images from everyday life, religious themes, and historical events, among other subjects.
  • Much of Indian Folk Art is created by hand, each piece is truly one-of-a-kind. Each artist employs a unique combination of mediums and processes.

Below are Indian folk art forms and their characteristic types.

Pattachitra Art

The origins of Pattachitra art can be traced to West Bengal and Odisha in the fifth century. The Mughal period significantly impacted the domination of this cloth-based scroll painting. The Pattachira paintings are mostly appreciated by art enthusiasts as they feature religious and mythological subjects.

The style of the painting features mostly primary colors such as red, black, indigo, yellow, and white.

Tanjore Art

Thanjavur painting, also called Tanjore painting, is a school of painting practiced in the city of Thanjavur in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. There is a lot of color and gold leaf in these paintings, and they all feature Hindu deities.

The boards the paintings are done on are made of wood and are coated with a mixture of zinc oxide and glue before being polished to a smooth finish. Thanjavur art primarily depicts Hindu deities and saints.

Common embellishments include glass beads and faux gems. The paintings are well-known for their elaborate compositions and vivid color palettes. Traditional Thanjavur paintings have been passed down through the generations with other forms of Tamil Naduan art.

Mandala Art

In Hinduism and Buddhism, the mandala serves as a symbol of the cosmos and is used in rituals. Mandalas, which originate from India, are religious or meditative designs that often take the shape of a circle and have intricate geometric patterns.

Paintings, sketches, and sculptures are just a few of the many mediums in which mandalas can be found in.

Mandalas, or yantras, are geometric designs that serve as a center of focus for meditation and ritual in Indian art. In conclusion, the Indian art form known as the mandala is a spiritual symbol utilized for meditation, ritual, and holy art that reflects the entire cosmos.

Chittara Art

The Indian state of KarnATAKA is home to the art form known as Chittara (also spelled Chittra or Chitra). Nature, landscapes, religious stories, and scenes from daily life are just few of the topics shown in this kind of painting, which is done on paper or canvas utilizing natural colors.

Symbolism, vivid color, and meticulous detail are what set Chittara paintings apart. The works are a hybrid of drawing and painting, with thick brushstrokes sitting alongside finer lines.

Chittara art is characterized by its emphasis on texture and depth, achieved by the careful placement of dots and delicate brushstrokes. Chittara paintings are created with a tiny paintbrush and all-natural pigments bound together with a binding agent like tamarind seed paste or rice paste.

It has been passed down through the generations as a traditional art form in KarnATAKA. Chittara paintings are widely used as household decor and in religious buildings. The complexity of its design, the vibrancy of its colors, and the depth of its symbolic meaning have all made it famous.

Gond Art

Gond art is a type of classical Indian art that was developed by the Gond people of Madhya Pradesh. Gond art is instantly recognizable by its use of striking color combinations, geometric patterns, and motifs taken from the natural world.

The art form is distinguished by the use of basic geometric forms and linear elements to create elaborate and intricate arrangements. Traditional Gond paint is made from a combination of natural ingredients and a binding agent like gum arabic. These ingredients include charcoal, powdered rock, and crushed leaves.

Paper, canvas, and walls are typical supports for these works of art. Gond artwork frequently features flora, fauna, and other elements of the natural world as its subject matter. The mythology and folklore incorporated into the art form have their origins in the cultural and spiritual beliefs of the Gond people.

Gond art is not only a form of storytelling and cultural preservation, but also a decorative element in homes. Gond art, in a nutshell, is an ancient Indian art form that was developed by the Gond tribes in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh.

It is easily recognizable by its use of contrasting colors, geometric patterns, and motifs taken from nature. Animals, vegetation, and the environment are common subjects in Gond art. It frequently incorporates elements of Gond mythology and folklore and has strong roots in the culture and spiritual beliefs of the Gond people.

Kalamkari Art

The Indian art of kalamkari includes drawing or writing with a special pen called a kalam on a piece of fabric to create elaborate patterns.

This style of art was developed in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, and it is distinguished by its use of natural colors to depict religious and mythological themes.

Srikalahasti and Machilipatnam are the two primary schools in Kalamkari. Designs of the Srikalahasti style are noted for their complexity, while those in the Machilipatnam style are known for their use of bright colors and straightforward patterns.

Cotton or silk fabrics are pretreated with a mixture of cow dung and tamarind to increase their absorbency before any Kalamkari artwork is done on them. A bamboo or date palm stick is honed to a point, and then dipped into natural dyes to produce the designs.

There may be delays of several weeks in the procedure. Stories from Hindu mythology, sacred scriptures like the Ramayana and Mahabharata, and everyday life are just some of the sources of inspiration for works of Kalamkari art.

The art form has been passed down from generation to generation in Andhra Pradesh, India. It is also regarded as a time-honored craft in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh.

Madhubani Art

Madhubani is a kind of traditional Indian folk art that was developed in the Indian state of Bihar. "Madhubani" translates to "forest of honey," and this style is recognized for its use of vivid hues and graphic motifs.

Paper or canvas is used for most Madhubani paintings, and a wide array of tools (including fingers, twigs, and brushes) are employed in the process. Madhubani art focuses on Hindu deities, but also features scenes from nature and religious stories as well as everyday life.

Complex geometric patterns are frequently depicted, and vivid colors are used, in these paintings. These paintings have dual purposes as both household decorations and sacred artifacts in religious institutions.

To sum up, Madhubani art, also known as Mithila painting, is a type of traditional Indian folk art that was developed in the Indian state of Bihar. Complex and detailed compositions are achieved by the use of basic elements like forms and lines, as well as bold colors.

Natural settings, religious narratives, and everyday life are all common topics in Madhubani paintings, with a focus on Hindu deities. It's been passed down down the generations in the Indian state of Bihar, and is widely regarded as an art form in its own right.

In Conclusion

Indian folk art greatly expresses the unique and captivating Indian culture and traditional heritage. Furthermore, these art forms in India symbolize spirituality and religious association.

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