Unique Art and Craft of Maharashtra

Maharashtra is a state known for its vibrant, diverse and vivacious culture. The cultural heritage of the state is rich and sustained over centuries by numerous settlers and diverse people, customs and geography. The rich culture and heritage stem from its countless traditions and art forms that have been preserved over the centuries. Its long tradition in art and craft has flourished from the cave paintings to Warli paintings and handicrafts of Maharashtra are beyond any comparison. The art and craft of Maharashtra are captivating and exciting. Let’s have a look at these art forms native to the state of Maharashtra:

Warli Paintings

Warli art is one of the famous and easily identifiable traditional art forms of Maharashtra. Warli paintings got their name from the Warli tribe which is one of the largest tribes found in Thane district. The word ‘warli’ comes from the word ‘warla’, meaning a piece of land or a field. The art displayed on the walls of the village houses depicts the social and daily life of the Warli tribesmen. The social life of the community is documented using a circle, square, triangle and the short wall paintings often surrounded the themes of fishes, trees, hunting, dances and animals. Traditionally, these paintings were made by women during wedding rituals, using a straw and rice paste which were then smeared on the wall of their huts. These days Warli paintings are also done on paper and sold all over India. They have become quite famous all over the country and are sold as prints on tiles, cloth, sarees and wall paintings.

Sawantwadi crafts

Sawantwadi got its name from a quiet town located in the district of Sindhudurg known for its scenic beauty and lacquer crafts. This art form was introduced into Sawantwadi around the end of 17th century and various schools of this craft started during the 18th and 19th century. This kind of craft is used to paint motifs of flowers and leaves on the surface of mythological figures and objects. The painting of mythological figures depicts three distinct styles: Chitrakatha, Ganjifa and Temple. Presently, this lacquer craft is used for the creation of beautifully crafted lacquered furniture and light fittings. Sawantwadi crafts are sold across the country and has gained a lot of international attention.

Chitrakatha or the Paithani Paintings

The nomadic Chitrakatha Community tells stories from the Puranas, legends and mythological folklore through vibrant paintings on leaves. It consists of 20 or more paintings portraying one story kept in a bundle known as “pothi”. Resembling the puppets, the Chitrakatha or Paithani paintings reflects the expressions and the stories of the region from which the storyteller hails from. Chitrakathi is mainly performed on special occasions in the temples of the Konkan region in the state of Maharashtra. The oral stories inspired from the famous epics like Ramayana, Puranas and Mahabharata, are performed in a kirtan style using folk instruments like the veena, dholki along with the hand- made paintings depicting the events and characters from the transcripts.


One of the ancient crafts, Bidriware is made from an amalgamation of copper and zinc. Involving intricate workmanship of pure silver which is either embossed, inlaid or overlaid on the metallic surface, Bidriware items are famous as souvenirs, paan holders and hookahs. They are available in different shapes and sizes all over the country. Thus, Bidriware is another well- known craft of this state which takes a lot of time and skills in preparation. These days lot of modernization is adopted by the artists, and a huge variety of contemporary designs have been developed.

Kolhapuri Chappals

Flat open-toed, T-strap sandal known for their durability, design and comfort, the Kolhapuri Chappals are handmade leather footwear. The Kolhapur district is well known for its beautiful and exclusive leather works which can be exclusively seen as Kolhapuri chappals. These unique footwears are exported all over the world because of their popularity. Generally made of buffalo hide, fine goat leather is used for the plaited strips decorating their top portion. Stitching is done using these leather chords and no nails are used in this footwear.

Thus, the art and craft of Maharashtra tell a story of its own. Various factors including the geographic location, history, innate talent of its people and richness of raw materials have shaped the culture with time.

Featured photo: pandu-lena, nashik by nevil zaveri under CC BY 2.0

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