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Indian Face Painting

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010 | Author:

Face painting boasts of a proud culture and heritage. Popular across different countries, face painting is basically a living tradition. Considered as a social art, its scope goes much beyond merely a beautifying practice. Particularly popular among the native Indians, face painting has acquired a cult status in art fraternity. It is a distinctive art that can only be mastered through rigorous practice and utmost dedication.


Practiced by several tribes all over the world, face painting was primarily used during social occasions or functions. It was used to enhance one’s power and appearance. Face painting does not follow a single pattern. It is used in different and unique ways by different tribes. You must have seen different types of face painting. At some places, the entire face is covered with colors whereas some other places; you will find tribes preferring to use just the lightest streak of color on the face.


Many movies based on tribe cultures and stories show different forms of face painting. You would have seen tribesmen covering their face and then completely plastering it down with mud. Just two holes for the eyes and mouth are left on the face. It was a common practice for the ancient warriors to paint their faces with colored clay. Different tribes had different designs and color preferences. Warriors used to come back to their homes after the hunt and have big feast. Along with song and dance routines, they used to celebrate with face painting. To make the paint, they would use roots, berries and tree barks. Using index and middle finger, paint was applied on the face. Gradually, entire face was covered with colors. Every color had different relevance. For example, red signified the color of war whereas black was the color of living. Similarly, yellow was color of death and white was the color of peace.