Warli is one of the oldest forms of Indian folk art and has its origins in the Warli region of Maharashtra. It is a style of tribal art mostly created by the tribal people from the North Sahyadri Range in Maharashtra, India. This range encompasses cities such as Dahanu, Talasari, Jawhar, Palghar, Mokhada, and Vikramgad of Palghar district. This tribal art was originated in Maharashtra, where it is still practiced today.This form of tribal art mainly makes use of geometric shapes such as circles, triangles and squares to form numerous shapes depicting life and beliefs of the Warli tribe. In olden days, Warli art was done on walls on special occasions. The painting would be done over a brown background which would basically be a mixture of mud and cow dung cakes. The white pigment used to draw shapes and figures would be a mixture of rice mixed with water and gum. One of the most popular themes in Warli art is a spiral chain of humans around one central motif.
These rudimentary wall paintings use a set of basic geometric shapes: a circle, a triangle, and a square. These shapes are symbolic of different elements of nature. The circle and the triangle come from their observation of nature. The circle represents the sun and the moon, while the triangle is derived from mountains and pointed trees. In contrast, the square appears to be a human invention, indicating a sacred enclosure or a piece of land.
The simple pictorial language of Warli painting is matched by a rudimentary technique. The ritual paintings are usually created on the inside walls of village huts. The walls are made of a mixture of branches, earth and red brick that make a red ochre background for the paintings. The Warli is only painted with a white pigment made from a mixture of rice flour and water, with gum as a binder. A bamboo stick is chewed at the end to give it the texture of a paintbrush. Walls are painted only to mark special occasions such as weddings, festivals or harvests. The lack of regular artistic activity explains the traditional tribal sense of style for their paintings. In the 1970s, this ritual art took a radical turn when Jivya Soma Mashe and his son Balu Mashe started to paint. They painted not for ritual purposes, but because of their artistic pursuits. Jivya is known as the modern father of Warli painting. Since the 1970s, Warli painting has moved onto paper and canvas.