The art of Kalamkari once was called Vrathapani. The new name must have come from the use of the 'kalam', to ink-in the paintings. This style embraces the world of gods and a crowd of divinities for they were used from ancient times for decorating temple cars during processions or stretched behind temple images as well as being used for giving religious instructions in temples or in outdoor gatherings, the piece being stretched between two palm trees.The cloth is dipped in harde/karaka fruit/myrobollom solution, for then only will black dye become black.The brushes used are made from bamboo slivers. A fine pointed one is used with a black dye, made from iron filing, to outline the whole painting which often takes weeks to do. Second flat-tipped brush is covered with an old piece of wool blanket used to brush in the natural vegetable dyes, one at a time.
After each colour application, the cloth has to be washed, often in running water, making the whole process laborious and complicatedThe design usually has a main central panel and is surrounded by smaller blocks arranged in rows, beneath which, written in black ink, are verses from original texts to transcribe the legend. This was a family vocation, so all members from childhood had to be well versed in the scriptures and legends before they were able to create the Kalamkari .
The Warlis live in the Thane district of Maharashtra. They are inborn tribal artists and their painting tradition is more than 1200 years old. It was the women of the tribe who created these wall paintings and they were greatly influenced by their surroundings and their day-to-day life. The walls of the huts were coated firstly with cow-dung, then mud and finally “geru” (terracotta). In a metal cup powdered rice was made into a paste and then thin reed like sticks from the baharu tree were used as pens to make geometric shapes like circles, triangles, squares, etc. Today it is the men who practice this art form. These paintings currently drawn in white on paper thinly smeared with cow-dung paste, have semi abstract line figures spread over the surface in an easy narrative flow. They have evolved from restricted ritual drawings on mud-walled huts into a pictorial repository of folk tales, humour and myth. The paintings startle visually without the prop of colour and with a remarkable economy of detail. Realizing that there is a growing demand for the lyrical art, the Warlis have moved from painting the walls of their homes to painting on cloth, paper, table lamps and even saris & dupattas.
The folk paintings of Orissa have flourished around the great religious centres of Puri, Konark and BhubaneshwarTraditionally the painters are known as chitrakars. Their painting the 'pattachitra' resemble the old murals of that region, dating back to the 5th century BC. The best work is found in and around Puri, especially in the village of Raghurajpur. Pattachitra is a traditional craft, delicately painted on primed cloth or patta in the finest detail. The themes usually depict the Jagannath temple with its three deities - Lord Jagannath, his brother Balabhadra and sister Subhadra and the famous Rath Yatra festival. These paintings were originally substitutes for worship on days when the temple doors were shut for the 'ritual bath' of the deity. Many Pattachitra paintings are from the ancient Indian texts of Vishnu and KrishnaThe paintings are of various shapes and sizes. A recent modification in Pattachitra paintings is the division of the Patta into a row full of squares with the high-point of the story in the larger centre square and various events portrayed in the other squares, not unlike the Kalamkari paintings. The chitrakars prepare, what looks like a hard card paper using layers of old Dhoti cloth and sticking them together with tamarind seed gum, which gives the surface a smooth leathery finish especially after it is rubbed with a conch shell. The theme is sketched with a pencil, then outlined with a fine brush using vivid earth and stone colours obtained from natural sources, like the white pigment prepared from conch shells, yellow from natural mineral indegenously called haratal , red from cinnator and black from lamp soot.
After completion, the painting is held over red hot charcoals, and lac mixed with resin powder is sprinkled over the surface, when this melts, it is rubbed over the entire surface to give a coating of lac.
Mithila Arts often wrongly is called "Madhubani" because the Art was found flourishing in the Madhubani district of Bihar. The real name is Mithila Arts of Madhubani district.
During festivals and celebrations, women decorate their homes by drawing distinct patterns on the walls, ceilings and floors of their homes. This region has been exposed to many religious influences, thus buddhist and tantric imprints on local motifs are visible. It was in the sixties, due to natural calamities, that the idea occurred to transpose the art onto paper, so that the paintings could be taken to other states and sold to gather Relief funds. There are different designs for each occasion and festival - birth, marriage, holi, suryashashti, kali puja, durga puja, etc. Apart from their decorative purpose, they also constitute a form of visual education from which one learns of one's heritage.
The beauty of Mithila Arts lies in their painstaking detail. The painting done on handmade paper which has been rubbed with cloth dipped in a mixture of water and the residue obtained from sieving cow-dung. The paper is then left to dry which makes it firm as well as free from insects. The brush used is a cotton-tipped-broomstick dipped in colour pastes obtained from natural sources like the leaves of beans, leaves of mango tree, grass, parijat flowers soaked in water, mehndi mixed with water of cowdung, skin of pomegranates and oranges. The resin which is collected from the mango, neem or babul tree is mixed with water and added to the natural extract to make the colours thick. The resin also makes the colours fast and gives them a shine.