India, a land of over 2000 ethnic groups has a wide diversity of visual art forms and every state in India shows a variety of art forms. Most of these art works are produced by certain communities and are often the chief sources of income.
These arts are often referred to as crafts as distinct from fine arts. However often these art forms are done with such finesse and style that many of these are entering the art market with prices that only high quality fine art can command. These art forms have produced artists of individual distinctions and allowed artists to grow individually.
Among the most well known among the folk art of India, the Kalighat Pats stand out. These Pats once made by the rural folk of Kalighat in Bengal depicted stories of regular life, often with a dose of humour. In fact Kalighat Pats are often referred to as the first set of fine art works that came from Bengal.
Kalighat pats have once influenced a whole generation of artists including Jamini Roy and Benode Bihari Mukherjee. Similar to these Pats, one comes across another kind of Pats which are found in the state of Orissa. The Orissa Patchitras, mostly painted on cloth are however more detailed and more colourful and most of these depict stories of Hindu gods and goddesses.
Like Orissa pats, Madhubani paintings are also done mostly on cloth with natural dyes. Practiced mostly by women, Madhubani used to be a community-art form. However each Madhubani artwork is created by an individual artist. Many of these artists have tasted good amount of success. Sonabai is one of the important artists of this genre.
Another very popular form of art is the Warli Art works which are practiced by a tribal community of Maharashtra. They show high degrees of abstraction, where the lateral space is covered by abstract constructs and designs. Design based art works without any specific motif are also practiced by the Banni tribes of Gujrat and the tribes of Jharkhand
A very highly sophisticated and abstract form of Art works are also produced by the Santhals in India. The Gonds of the Godavari belt who as a tribe are as old as the Santhals, produce figurative works rich in colours.
Not all the folk arts and crafts are entirely Indian in their origin. Some of the crafts and techniques have been imported from the Orient like the Batik. But these have now been Indianised and the Indian form of Batik has a distinct identity and has helped many individual artists like Ganga Devi to achieve international success.
Other important folk art forms in India include Tanjor paintings, Tibetan Scrolls, Pahari and Rajasthani paintings, Glass paintings, Kalamkari needle work, Bandhni print work, Kalamajhethu and Alpana floor works, etc.