Indian Folk-art: An Expression of Cultural Diversity

Indian Folk-art: An Expression of Cultural Diversity

  • By chaudhari.harsha
  • |

Folk-art as a visual medium does not have a unique definition but generally consists of all forms of visual art delivered in the context of an existent society within a particular geographical and cultural niche. In this manner, folk-art caters to local tastes and needs, is reflective of the way of life and culture in a community, and provides tangible and intangible forms of art with distinctive styles and objects that stand removed from other cultural developments of their time. 

Intangible folk-art forms include music, dance, and narrative structures, while tangible folk-art forms refer to objects that are crafted by hand or other means within the traditional practices of a community. The purpose of folk-art is to serve as a medium through which a community’s traditions, beliefs, and attitudes can be transmitted and passed from one generation to another. This is often achieved within families and community via practical demonstrations, conversation, and daily practice. 

Folk-art was developed to address the very real needs, and desires of a community. Once that need is removed, the relevant folk-art may gradually vanish within the annals of history thanks to decreased transmission and communication of its existence within the community.

Indian Folk-Art

Folk-art in India manifests in various forms including pottery, painting, paper-art, weaving, sculpting, metallurgy, and object design involving jewelry and toys. Relevant objects can include masks that are used in religious rituals and ceremonies, paintings, textiles, baskets, kitchen utensils, arms and weapons, religious sculptures (idols) etc. It is also common to have the human body serve as a platform for folk-art via the practices of piercings and tattoos during festivals and religious celebrations.

Folk-art products each have a symbolic meaning that is attached to them as well as the materials and techniques used to fabricate them. Easily recognizable forms of Indian folk-art include the dazzling sculptures and paintings of puranic gods and mythological figures of Hinduism often sold and displayed in temples, fairs, festivals, and city districts as well as in local households.

The Indian folk-arts have also served as a medium of expression for the cultures of nomadic tribes and ethnic groups within the country. The relevant art forms express the transient and dynamic patterns of lifestyles said communities have experienced while traveling across India.

Over the course of Indian history, the various folk-art forms of the nation have been protected and survived under the umbrella of religious and ethnic traditions revolving around familial beliefs, and daily practices. Unfortunately, globalization has resulted in the development of a synthetic macro-culture that has led to the gradual attrition of Indian folk-art. Thus, tremendous efforts have been undertaken by the government of India alongside various NGOs to preserve and protect these arts and to promote them. 

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