Types of Paintings In India

Types of Paintings In India

The rich cultural diversity of India is well reflected in the vivid, distinct and enchanting folk art and crafts. Various painting styles are prevalent across various regions, each representing tradition, customs, and ideologies passed on from one generation to other. Traditionally, most of the Indian painting styles existed as wall paintings or murals. In due course of time, urbanisation brought these painting forms on paper, canvas, and cloth etc. Indian painting styles are not just a reflection of the indigenous lifestyle but a perfect example of artistic expression through simple yet distinct compositions.
Here are some of the popular Indian folk painting styles –

Madhubani Paintings

One of the most celebrated styles of folk paintings in India is, Madhubani which originated in the Mithila region of Bihar as a form of wall art.This spectacular art style was unknown to the outside world until discovered by the British colonial William G. Archer in 1934 while inspecting the damage after the massive Bihar earthquake. Archer was amazed by the beautiful illustrations on the exposed interior walls of the houses…The beauty of Madhubani lies in its simple and evocative portrayal of culture and traditions. The designs are characterised by eye-catching geometrical patterns, symbolic images, and scenes from mythology. The balance between the vibrancy of colors and simplicity in its patterns make Madhubani different from other painting styles. Bharni, Katchni, Tantrik, Godna, and Kohbar are the five distinct styles of Madhubani painting.

Warli Paintings

The 2500-year-old tradition of Warli paintings of the Thane and Nasik areas of Maharashtra are closely linked with nature and social rituals of the tribe. Warli paintings showcase daily activities of the local people of that community like farming, dancing, hunting, praying etc. Traditionally, women used twigs to draw lively designs with rice paste on mud walls of tribal houses to mark celebrations of harvests or weddings. Simple geometrical patterns in white against a red or yellow surface are used to depict everyday life scenes. Warli art with its linear and monochromatic hues resembles the execution of pre-historic cave paintings.

Kalighat Painting or Bengal Pat

The Kalighat painting style was developed around Mid-19th century in the neighbourhood of Kali Temple in Calcutta. These drawings on paper were done by a group known as “patuas” hence the name Kalighata Pata. They depicted scenes of everyday life and mythological deities in a simple yet captivating manner and developed into the popular kalighat style of painting. Kalighat painters predominantly use earthy Indian colours like indigo, ochre, Indian red, grey, blue and white. The swift, seamless, free-flowing outline is a distinguished characteristic of Kalighat style of paintings. This painting style has inspired many artists, the most famous being Jamini Roy.


Phad is the narrative scroll painting tradition from Rajasthan, dating back to a thousand years. Stories of local deities and heroes are painted on horizontal cloth scrolls in hues of red, yellow and orange The Phad scrolls show depictions of battlefields, adventure stories, legendary romances and the richness of the Indian princely states. The Phad painting style leaves one spellbound at how the folk artists accommodate multiple stories in a single composition, yet maintain the aesthetics of artistic expression.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *