The word ‘Warli’ is derived from Warla, meaning “piece of land" or “field". The Warli tribes belonged to the northern outskirts of Mumbai and extended all the way up to the Gujarat border.
The art is traced back to as early as the tenth century, and traditionally it was women who painted these wonderful paintings.
On observing the Warli paintings closely, and you can see the stick-like figures in movement always. The figures have performance gestures more than any facial expression. The paintings depict humans and animals engaged in harvest, cultivating the land, hunting, or dancing amidst a festive atmosphere.
One characteristic Wari theme is the spiral formations of men and women depicted in a concentric circular design. These are symbolic of their Tarpa dance, in which life is represented by unending circles, without a beginning or end. You can see these circles depicted in paintings done for all occasions – birth, marriage or death.