Thursday, 8 December 2016

Mithila painting / Madhubani painting

Mithila painting (also known as Madhubani painting)
01-Dec 2016- A memorable day for me as I got a chance to view and experience the beauty of Madhubani paintings at a major handicrafts exhibition in Mangalore, India. I also had the oppurtunity to interact with Mr.Bajrangi Kumar Jha (from Bihar) who was very keen to show m these paintings. He explained to me about the natural colors used to painstakingly paint these art forms.
He was also proud to show me a news article highlighting Shri Narendra Modi, PM of India gifting a Madhubani Painting to Hannover Mayor 

What are Madhubani paintings? 

Mithila painting (also known as Madhubani painting) is practiced in the Mithila state, Nepal and in the state of Bihar in India . Painting is done with fingers, twigs, brushes, nib-pens, and matchsticks, using natural dyes and pigments, and is characterized by eye-catching geometrical patterns. 

History of 
Madhubani paintings
The origin can be traced to the time of the Ramayana, when King Janaka of Nepal ordered his kingdom to decorate the town for the wedding of his daughter, Sita to Lord Rama. The ancient tradition of elaborate wall paintings or Bhitti-Chitra in Nepal and Bihar played a major role in the emergence of this new art form. The original inspiration for Madhubani art emerged from women’s craving for religiousness and an intense desire to be one with God. With the belief that painting something divine would achieve that desire, women began to paint pictures of gods and goddesses with an interpretation so divine that captured the hearts of many.
Madhubani, which by one account means Forest of Honey, (‘Madhu’-honey, ‘Ban’-forest or woods) is a region in Mithila, Nepal and the northern part of Bihar. A region that has a distinct regional identity and language that reportedly spans 2500 years.
The women painters of Mithila lived in a closed society. It is locally believed that Madhubani painting tradition started when Raja Janak of Nepal commissioned local artists to paint murals in his palace in preparations for the marriage of his daughter Sita to Lord Ram. The paintings were originally done on walls coated with mud and cow dung. The kohbar ghar or the nuptial chamber was the room in which the paintings were traditionally done. Originally the paintings depicted an assembly of symbolic images of the lotus plant, the bamboo grove, fishes, birds and snakes in union. These images represented fertility and proliferation of life. 

Noteworthy contribution of foreign scholars for Madhubani art
The contribution of foreign scholars in promoting the art form internationally has also been immense. Yves Vequad, a French novelist and journalist, in the early 1970s wrote a book on the basis of his research on Mithila painting and produced a film ‘The Women Painters of Mithila’. The German anthropologist film-maker and social activist Erika Moser persuaded the impoverished Dusadh community to paint as well.

Madhubani art -  Styles
Madhubani art has five distinctive styles, namely, Bharni, Katchni, Tantrik, godna and gobar. In the 1960s Bharni, Kachni and Tantrik style were mainly done by Brahman and Kayashth women, who are upper caste women in India and Nepal. Their themes were mainly religious and they depicted Gods and Goddesses, flora and fauna in their paintings. People of lower castes includes aspects of their daily life and symbols , story of Raja Shailesh [ guard of village] and much more, in their paintings. But nowadays Madhubani art has become a globalised art form so there is no difference in the work of artists of the region on the basis of caste system

Mithila painting (also known as Madhubani painting)

5 Facts about Madhubani paintings

1. When Rama and Sita tied knot, Madhubani style of painting was born  

Mithila paintings; you hear the name and right away you know there is a connection between this style of painting and Ramayana, right? And yes, there is.

The origin of this style of painting is related to the famous ‘Sita Kalyan’. It’s said that King Janaka, father of Sita, arranged quite a number of artists to create paintings of the marriage. According to history, this is when Madhubani style of painting was born.

Are you looking for beautiful madhubani paintings for your home? I recommend you visit They have a great selection of these paintings.

2. Believe it or not, Madhubani paintings prevent deforestation

Artists from Bihar are using Madhubani paintings as a way to prevent trees from being cut down. But, how can simple paintings stop people from cutting down trees?

These artists of this region are drawing Madhubani paintings on these trees and since the paintings mostly depict Hindu deities, people restrain from cutting them down.

According to a report from BBC, “The Madhubani artists believe that they are showing the world how an art form can be used to convey a strong social message ‘in an effective way’.”

3. Once on mud walls, today- on canvas to bangles

It is the women who live in rural areas of Bihar do the traditional ‘Madhubani art’. But today, things have changed and now this style is popular not only among the people of India, but also among the people of other countries, especially US and Japan.

During the traditional times, this type of painting used to be done on mud walls of houses that were freshly plastered. Now, you would find Madhubani paintings on canvas, cushions, paper or even cloths. People are also doing Madhubani artwork on utensils and even bangles.

4. It is not just Gods you can see in Madhubani paintings

Hindu mythologies and deities has always been a prolific presence in the Madhubani paintings and it still is. These paintings are mostly about Hindu deities like Krishna, Ram, Shiva, Lakshmi, Durga etc. At times, events like weddings have also made it to the canvas of Madhubani paintings. Whatever space is left on the surface is never left alone and the space is filled with some simple paintings of flowers or even geometric designs.

5. There are Exclusive Madhubani Painting Art Galleries around the World

Today, many exclusive art galleries for Madhubani paintings can be found in India and even overseas.

The MITHILAsmita is an organization formed by some entrepreneurs for carrying on the tradition of Mithila paintings. This art gallery is located in Bengaluru, India. Apart from the art gallery, they also organize exhibitions for these paintings time to time.

In Japan, there is one ‘Mithila Museum’, which has over 850 Madhubani paintings. The museum also conducts research and also works for the publicity of these paintings.

In the town of Madhubani, there is also a ‘Mithila Art Institue’, which stands for the development of Madhibani paintings and also for the training of young artists.

Now that you know this much about Madhubani paintings, what do you think about its future? Will it be a major art form from India? Share your opinions with us in comments.

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