Folk Art Map of India: 10 Gorgeous Art Forms That Won the GI Tag

Folk art map of India

India has witnessed the birth of hundreds of beautiful art forms, some of which have stayed on for generations. Here are 10 art forms that were recognised and given a GI Tag.

Did you know that we have art forms that date back to 2500 BCE? India has been a haven for traditional folk art forms that have been passed down from generation to generation. Some depict epic tales of gods and goddesses and some others portray the beauty of nature, but each is unique and significant in its own way.

With rapid growth and modernisation, these art forms have adjusted themselves to the taste of modern times, while maintaining their raw authenticity.

Here are ten traditional folk arts from different states that have stood the test of time and are here to stay.

Chowk Poorana

Native to Punjab and practised in states like Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, Chowk Poorana is an art form used to decorate floors and walls of the house during festivities. Made by using flour and rice, it is said to conjure the blessings of Goddess Lakshmi and ward off evil spirits.

The paintings are bright in colour and usually have motifs of flowers, leaves, ferns, peacocks and geometrical patterns.

Aipan

Aipan art belongs to the Kumaon region of Uttarakhand.
Aipan art belongs to the Kumaon region of Uttarakhand.

This GI-tagged art form belongs to the Kumaon region of Uttarakhand. It is used to decorate pieces of cloth, paper and the walls to adorn the god/goddess of the household. The decoration is usually done on important occasions like the birth ceremony, thread ceremony, weddings and death.

Traditionally done by hand, the art has evolved and is now seen on pots, wall hangings, posters, greeting cards etc.

Kangra

Kangra art form depicting a scene from Krishna's story
Kangra art form depicting a scene from Krishna’s story.

Born in the beautiful landscapes of the lower Himalayan hills in the 18th century, Kangra is a pictorial art recognised by the government. This art form received a GI tag in 2012.

Named after Kangra, a former princely state in Himachal Pradesh, its central theme is around the Sringara Rasa, which depicts the stories of Radha and Krishna with picturesque imagery of nature and plants.

The art form, which saw a decline in its popularity, has managed to prevail with the efforts of the state government and the relentless work of the artisans.

Mughal miniature paintings

Miniature Mughal paintings depicting royal life.
Miniature Mughal paintings depicting royal life.

Contained in not more than a few square inches are Mughal miniature paintings, which detail illustrations of different events. Despite their tiny size, these paintings are extremely vivid and detailed with bright colours and soft brush strokes.

The art form is said to have emerged from Persian portraits but has its own unique features that set it aside. They depict very realistic scenes from legendary stories, hunting activities and royal life.

Madhubani 

Madhubani originated from Janakpur, which was the capital of ancient Mithila — present-day Bihar and Nepal region. Most of these paintings depict flora and fauna, women, gods and goddesses, geometrical patterns etc. It got recognition and a GI tag in 2007.

Madhubani paintings were rediscovered by the British after an earthquake in the 1930s. Also known as Mithila paintings, they mostly depict scenes from ancient tales or auspicious occasions. Traditionally painted on canvas, Madhubani art can now be found on various products like stoles, scarfs, sarees, bags etc and is sold all over the world.

Warli 

Warli art from Maharashtra.
Warli Art from Maharashtra.

Made by one of the largest tribes in India, Warli art is native to Maharashtra. It is considered to be one of the oldest art forms finding its traces back to 2500 BCE. The art form also received a GI tag in 2011. The focal theme of Warli paintings started with nature and its elements, and it later moved on to depict everyday life.

The art form gained popularity because of its simplicity. It uses minimum tools to create beautiful motifs by using simple lines, triangles, squares, circles and dots. Each symbol is said to have its own significance. The circle, for instance, represents the moon and the sun, while the square represents a sacred piece of land.

Kalamkari 

Kalamkari artist displays impeccable penmanship.
Kalamkari artist displays impeccable penmanship.

Native to Andhra Pradesh, Kalamkari has two forms — Machilipatnam and Srikalahasti. Machilipatnam art form is block printed, whereas Srikalahasti is made with a free hand using a pen. Both forms received GI tags from the government in 2007.

This art form can be seen on temples, chariots and fabrics depicting tales from Indian epics like Mahabharat and Ramayana. The Mughals are said to be the first to patronise the art form, and it reached its peak in the middle ages. It became popular and spread to neighbouring states like Tamil Nadu. The paintings are beautifully crafted using bright colours and exquisite penmanship.

Gond

A vibrant Gond art painting depicting a bird.
A vibrant Gond art painting depicting a bird.

Often confused by the untrained eye with Madhubani paintings, Gond art is native to Madhya Pradesh and has spread across central India to places like Chhattisgarh and Odisha. Considered to be 1,400 years old, the art gets its name from the Dravidian word ‘Kond’ which means green mountain.

The art used to be practised by a tribal community that goes by the same name as the art. The paintings use vibrant colours like orange, green, yellow, red and blue. The main subject of Gond paintings is nature while taking inspiration from myths and legends in Indian epics. The images are mostly human and animal forms.

Rogan 

Rogan art is painted on scarfs, rugs, sarees etc
Rogan art is painted on scarfs, rugs, sarees etc

Traditionally used to embellish a bride’s dress, Rogan art was born in Kutch, Gujarat around 400 years ago.

The art is made using a flat iron rod with beautiful bright colours like orange, red and blue. To make the colours, castor seeds are manually pounded to extract oil. The oil is then boiled to create a paste, which is combined with coloured powder and diluted in water. 

Rogan art has geometrical patterns, birds and flowers, and is usually painted on rugs, sarees, scarves, etc.

Thanjavur Paintings

Thanjavur paintings are a classical South Indian art form, which originated in the town of Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu and soon spread to the neighbouring states. It was given a GI tag by the government of India in 2008.

What makes it unique is the detailed work with an inlay of precious and semi-precious stones and glittering gold foil. Artists have been modernising the artwork by adding 3D effects and using vibrant colours to make it more attractive.

Edited by Pranita Bhat

Sources: 

Drawing and designs on walls by Trisha Bhattacharya 

Kangra Painting by Government of Himachal Pradesh

Aipan art of Uttarakhand by euttarakhand

The astounding art of Mughal India by Surya Tubach 

Warli – Tribal art of India by Arigma Mohan

Gond art residing in the heart of India by Yosha Gupta

Madhubani art- history, themes and characteristics by Misha Jaswal

How rogan art is being kept alive by Kartikeya Shankar  
Deep Dive

The Better Mentor

See All

We at The Better India want to showcase everything that is working in this country. By using the power of constructive journalism, we want to change India – one story at a time. If you read us, like us and want this positive movement to grow, then do consider supporting us via the following buttons.

Please read these FAQs before contributing.

Let us know how you felt

  • love
  • like
  • inspired
  • support
  • appreciate
X
 
Sign in to get free benefits
  • Get positive stories daily on email
  • Join our community of positive ambassadors
  • Become a part of the positive movement