Madhubani painting -An ancient Folk Art

Painting is one of the distinctive styles to represent the society and the rituals and cultures they are exhibiting.When we are talking about art form then,Madhubani painting is one of the best art forms which is still alive.



Madhubani,a region extended in Mithila region of Nepal and North Bihar literally means 'Forest Of Honey'.It is famous for its folk art forms.One of the rarest art of the world that is evolved,preserved and practiced by women.


It is a tale that the king of Mithila,Raja Janak asked rural artists to paint the palace walls on the ocassion of his daughter's marraige ceremony.Some believed that he asked an artist to capture the marriage ceremony as painting.

It is believed that this ancient folk art is originated about 2500 years ago and the unique thing is that ,it is flourishing even today in the same manner.


The women usually do this painting ,mainly on walls and floors during special occasions.Fingers twigs,matchsticks,thin bamboo sticks are used for painting.The special feature is that,the artists used natural colors to beautify their art.


The two most important form of Madhubani painting are "Bhitti Chitra",done on walls,and another one that is done on floors is known as "Aripan".The traditional style of the painting was mainly done by the women within the courtyard of the house.


This ancient art form came to be known to the world from in around 1934.North Bihar experienced earthquake that year and there was massive destruction in the Mithila region.One British Officer,William G. Archer visited over there and during his inspection,he found the Mithila paintings quite similar to Miro and Picasso.He wrote about it in an art Magazine and put its pictures too.This is how the courtyard painting started spreading its wings.This is how it started to get known to the outside world.


There is one more incident that made the painting commercialised.It was a time of drought during 1966-68.The All India Handicrafts Board encouraged Mithila women to make paintings on paper and thus new source of income was created.


In 1969,Sita devi got state and National award and in 1975 another artist, Jagdamba devi received Padma Shri and Madhubani thus got recognition that it deserved.


The various types of Madhubani paintings are:-


●Bharni Style- Bharni,as the word itslef reflecting its meaning,that is filling.Bright colors like red,orange,yellow are used to fill the image drawn and its outline are drawn in dark black.


The life events from the religious epics of Hindu dieties such as Rama,Krishna, Durga and so on is the main subject matter.


●Kachni/Kayastha Style-

It means line art.In this form of painting, parallel lines or small dots are used to fill the images.Only vermilion and black colors are used.The main painting of this form is 'Kohbar Ghar',made on walls of the room where newly wed bride and groom spent some days.This kind of art depicts fertility and life.


● Godana style - This means tattoo.Concentric circle,rectangular form,repeated images in parallel lines and various other forms are used in this kind of style.Basically black color is used but some are seen filled with other colors too.



●Tantric Style -This is the style related to tantra.Shree Yantra,Shri Bhairav Yantra and so many such images are depicted.



The main attraction of this art form was the colors used.The colors are extracted from natural sources such as,

Black is obtained from lampblack and charcoal.

Turmeric is used to create yellow color,From red sandalwood and kusum flowers,they extract red.From leaves,Green colour is obtained,Blue from Indigo and White from Rice Powder.


"Kohbarghar",the highly symbolised paintings.Various birds and animal images have been depicted.Image of Hindu dieties,such as Rama,Krishna, Saraswati and others too have been depicted.Heavenly bodies like sun and moon,religious plants like basil have also been depicted.Various social customs and ritualistic symboles have been picturised through Madhubani Painting.One more specific thing about this painting is that,there are no blank spaces found and if there is a void,it is filled with floral patterns and geometric images.


The art passed from one generation to another.In ranti village of Bihar,it is still practiced. Sister-in-law of known artist of Mithila painting,Mahasundari Devi,Karpuri Devi, Dulari, and Mahalaxmi.They are the are women from three generations of the village .They educated other women in the village and kept the art form alive by educating other women about this ancient folk art. Works of the three women have been commissioned by the government of India and also found a place in the Mithila museum of Japan.


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