What are traditional art forms in India- With Pictures

India is rich in art and culture.

They are passed down for generations and we are still proud of these traditional art forms. India is a country that boasts of housing exquisite art styles from different time periods and different regions.

Each having its own unique characteristic is what makes Indian art famous globally.

The main art forms are :

  1. Kalamkari Painting of Andhra Pradesh
  2. Phad Painting of Rajasthan
  3. Warli Art of Maharashtra
  4. Pichwai Painting of Rajasthan
  5. Tanjore Painting of Tamilnadu
  6. Madhubani Art of Bihar
  7. Mural Art of Kerala
  8. Pattachitra Art of Odisha
  9. Gond Art of Madhya Pradesh
  10. Thangka Painting of Arunanchal Pradesh

Well, there are many more, because India has more than a thousand art forms. I’ll list the major ones:

  1. Madhubani Painting. Started in the northern part of india(present jharkhand, bihar and some parts of UP and Bengal). Stylised with long eyes like that of Kalighat Paintings native to Bengal which can be seen on some traditional Maa Durga sculptures. Made famous by the British, it is the most recognised style of art in India and the easiest one.
  2. Kalamkari. Meaning Art with Pen, it is of two types in India: Machilipatnam, which originates from Machilipatnam in Andhra Pradesh and Srikalahasti, which originates from Chitoor in the same state. While the former refers to block-printed form of art, the latter is a free flowing art with a pen on fabric. Today, Kalamkari art is used on sarees and ethnic clothing, and depicts anything from flora and fauna to epics such as Mahabharata or Ramayana.
  3. Tanjore. From down South, Tanjore or Thanjavur paintings originated in 1600 AD, encouraged by the Nayakas of Thanjavur. 
  4. You can recognise a Thanjavur painting by its use of gold foil, which glitters and lends the painting a surreal look. These panel paintings on wooden planks depict devotion to gods, goddesses and saints. 
  5. It borrows its styles from Maratha and Deccani art, as well as European styles.
  6. Kalighat Paintings. It originated in 19th century Bengal, from Kalighat. 
  7. It was the time when upheaval against the British was a possible, exciting idea. These paintings, on cloth and pattas, at first depicted Gods and Goddesses, but then took a turn towards social reform. 
  8. With cheap paper and paint colours, squirrel hair brushes and colour pigments, the art was characterised by flawless strokes, brushwork, and simple but bold drawings. 
  9. It sought to raise awareness about social conditions in its viewers – rich zamindars were depicted drinking wine with women, while priests were shown with ‘unchaste’ women and police babus being sloppy.
  10. Patachitra. “Pata” means cloth and “Chitra” means painting. 
  11. A cloth-based scroll painting native to Odisha and West Bengal, these paintings with sharp, angular bold lines depict epics, Gods and Goddesses. Originating from the fifth century in religious hubs like Puri and Konark, around the same time that sculpturing began, considering there was no known distinction between an artist and sculptor back then. 
  12. What’s unique about this art form is that the dress style depicted in the paintings has a heavy influence on the Mughal era.


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Traditional Indian art consists of a variety of forms including pottery sculpture, painting woven silk etc.

Rock art: Rock art in India include carvings painting etc

Miniature painting: It is introduced to Persian culture by Mughal emperors

Folk and tribal art: they include works like pottery painting metal art paper art weaving and designing of objects etc

Kalamkari: The beautifully crafted sketches of Kalamkari designs are mostly printed on cotton cloths and worn as traditionally. Most of the printing contains peacock, Indian god/goddess prints,

“Digital design is like painting, except the paint never Dries”

  1. Madhubani Art: Far away from Indian big cities and the modern world lies a beautiful region once known as Mithila. It was one of the first kingdoms to be established in eastern India. Madhubani art is a style of Indian painting, practised in the Mithila region of the Indian subcontinent. This painting is done with a variety of tools, including fingers, twigs, brushes, nib-pens, and matchsticks and using natural dyes and pigments. The Mithila painting is one of the living creative activities of the women of this region. It is usually made on paper, cloth, readymade garments, movable objects etc.

“The object of art is not to reproduce reality, but to create a reality of the same intensity.”

2. Thanjavur painting is a classical South Indian painting style, which was inaugurated from the town of Thanjavur (Anglicized as Tanjore). 

The art form draws its immediate resources and inspiration from way back about 1600 AD, a period when the Nayakas of Thanjavur under the suzerainty of the Vijayanagara Rayas encouraged art—chiefly, classical dance and music—as well as literature, both in Telugu and Tamil and painting of chiefly Hindu religious subjects in temples. 

It is distinguished by its famous gold coating. 

However, it can safely be surmised that Thanjavur painting, as we know it now, originated in the Maratha court of Thanjavur (1676–1855). It has been recognized as a Geographical indication by the Government of India in 2007-08.

3. Bhil Painting is a form of painting from folk and tribal art that is practised by one of the largest tribes in India. The Bhils are the second-largest tribal community in India.

4. Kerala mural paintings are frescos depicting Hindu mythology and legends, which are drawn on the walls of temples and churches in South India, principally in Kerala.

5. Gond Art is a form of painting from folk and tribal art that is practiced by one of the largest tribes in India – the Gond – who are predominantly from Madhya Pradesh, but also can be found in pockets of Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh and Odisha.

6. The Khovar Painting is made in the bordering areas of Jharkhand, West Bengal and Orissa and is considered as the old-age tribal painting of India. 

Khovar refers to the decoration of the marriage chambers and depicts the animals and plants of neighbouring forests and valleys. 

The name Khovar is derived from two words: kho or koh (meaning: a cave) and var (meaning: husband). Symbolizing fertility, the mural-making takes place each spring during the marriage season.

7. Warli Art is a form of painting from folk and tribal art that is practised by one of the largest tribes in India with whom it shares its name. Warli comes from the state of Maharashtra in India.

8. Phad Painting or phad is a style religious scroll painting and folk painting, practiced in Rajasthan state of India. 

This style of painting is traditionally done on a long piece of cloth or canvas, known as phad. 

The narratives of the folk deities of Rajasthan, mostly of Pabuji and Devnarayan are depicted on the phads. 

The Bhopas, the priest-singers traditionally carry the painted phads along with them and use these as the mobile temples of the folk deities, who are worshipped by the Rebari community of the region


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9. Chitrakathi Art: Chithra means painting and Katha means story, the art of storytelling through painting is known as Chitrakathi Art which is very popular in Maharashtra.


About the Author:

Manny Acharya is the co-founder of Artmellows. Your go-to place for Design, Digital Art, Digital sculpting, Photography, Design Tools and gears Info, and Product Reviews. Manny is a Digital Artist, 3D Sculpt Designer, Ardent Photography, Drone flying Enthusiast, and tech Lover. He supercharges Digital Art and design by crafting memorable 3D sculptures & 2D Design and art. Learn more About Manny:

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