Know About ​Madhubani Art

by Juhi Dubey

Madhubani Art or Mithila Art originated in the Madhubani district of Mithila region which includes part of the state of Bihar in India and parts of Nepal. The art is believed to have originated during the times of the Ramayana when Lord Rama and Princess Sita, the daughter of King Janaka from the Mithila kingdom were married. As a part of the wedding preparations king Janak ordered the local artists in his kingdom to decorate the palace and thus, Madhubani paintings were born. The general themes of the Madhubani paintings involve depicting the Hindu deities and stories related to them. The paintings use many natural themes such as the Sun, the Moon and other religious symbols.

Artist: Anagha Paul

Photographed by: Juhi Dubey

Traditionally, the artists use natural vegetable dyes and pigments for the paintings. However, with time these have now been replaced by synthetic colors. The paintings are especially marked by use of extremely bright color scheme and eye-catching geometrical patterns. The artists make use of every bit of the empty space available in the painting by filling them up with natural figures or geometric designs. The paintings were traditionally done with fingers or other natural objects like twigs, brushes or even matchsticks. They are based on various religious rituals and festive occasions such as birth or marriage and other local festivals. Traditionally, the Madhubani art form was limited to a community art and was transferred from mother to daughter. It was practiced as a part of religious, customary or ceremonial decorations on the walls of the individual households. The Mithila painting earlier were part of domestic rituals and were unknown to the outside world.
Madhubani art received international and national attention only after its discovery during the severe earthquake of 1934 in Bihar and Nepal when the decorations of the collapsed houses were exposed. Nowadays the paintings are made on cloth, handmade paper and canvas sheets. The Madhubani art is characterized by several styles which are named after the caste groups that largely practice them. These include the Bharni style which were traditionally done by the Brahmins, the Kachni style which was practiced by the Kayastha community, the Godhana or the Tattoo style of paintings practiced by the Dusadhs and finally the Geru or Gobar paintings done by the Harijans. Commercialization and globalization of the Madhubani art has removed the differences in the work of artists of the region on the basis of caste system. The artists involved in the Madhubani art are now working in all the styles.


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