Notes on Antique Textiles, Folk Art & Timeless Traditions – Jaina Mishra

Daily Art Fix – Warli Paintings on Dung

The original idea was to use the cow dung walls of homes as the medium to paint on using white pigment made of rice & gum.

Then at some point to make it transportable cloth pieces came to be used and to provide the dark contrasting background, a thin layer of cow dung was applied to the cloth as base.

And then the art flowed….using a chewed bamboo stick as a paint brush.

Over a dozen village scenes – bonfires, threshing, ploughing and harvest dances scenes have been rendered in the typical style of Warli tribals.

Vintage Warli Painting on cow dung baseVintage Warli Painting on cow dung baseScene of a village feast – barbecue

Nowadays dung has now been substituted with natural red clay base or even mere earth-colored paint. Further, in current day paintings,  we see just one scene or two or a repetition of Warli motifs. In this piece I was able to count groups set in over one dozen different scenes.

More images on


Surprisingly, the same iconic style is also seen at the eastern end of the country in Orissa:

Wall panels from ODisha:


How did this migration of memes across roughly 1500 km come about?

No idea – will explore this mystery soon.


may 2016


3 comments on “Daily Art Fix – Warli Paintings on Dung

  1. Sadaf Zia
    November 7, 2016

    I have learnt so much from your art notes. thanks for the good work.

  2. Tarini Kedar Gidh
    February 13, 2017

    The work is Beautiful n so picture perfect …. I wanted to knw if warli is painted on cow dung layer will it chip off after years ?

  3. wovensouls
    February 16, 2017

    I’ve had it for over 10 years but it hasn’t shown any signs of crackling / chipping. They probably add something to it to make it durable.

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