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Madhubani Paintings

It is rightly said that the main aim of any form of art is to express the emotions that can’t be openly stated. Art is a catharsis for all feelings- pain, joy, anger, everything. As compared to other art forms like songs, dance, drama, paintings can express these emotions for a longer period of time. Colour, textures, and patterns that are shown in paintings have aesthetic value, unlike any other art form. India has always been famous for its vibrantly coloured and intricately designed paintings. One of the oldest art form in India are Madhubani paintings, practiced in areas around Nepal and Bihar.

History Of Madhubani Paintings

Also known as Mithali paintings, they can be dated back to the time of Ramayana. It is said that King Janaka, the father of Sita, had asked all his artists to decorate the entire kingdom with this unique art at the occasion of the wedding of his daughter and Lord Rama. According to facts, Mithali paintings were unknown to the world and were only domestic art until 1934, when a massive earthquake rocked Bihar. While inspecting the damage done, a British officer by the name of William G. Archer discovered these paintings in the rubbles of the walls of homes. The beauty of these paintings and similarity to the works of famous modern artists left him stunned. After this, a drought in the late 1960s forced some women in areas nearing Madhubani village to take this art form to a commercial level to help their situation. As these paintings gained popularity, their demand also increased. The makers now had dealers from New Delhi and also from all over the world.

Also Read: Cave Paintings In India

Style and Format 

They were initially made by people of different sects and were categorized into five different styles, namely- Bharni, Kacchni, Godna, Tantrik, and Kohbar, but they have been combined into one. Madhubani paintings have fixed symbols and patterns. For example, serpents are said to be divine protectors while peacocks symbolize love and romance. The centrepieces of these paintings are usually Hindu deities like Lord Krishna, Shiva, and Ram, while sun, moon, and trees also make appearances. Artists use these paintings as a way to prevent trees from being cut down. People have a strong belief in God, and hence, trees that are painted are spared from being cut.

madhubani(mithila) paintings art

Even though they are known for their simplicity, they depict highly complex and intelligent geometric patterns. The colours used in them come from natural resources- leaves of plants, turmeric, pollen, sandalwood, etc. Figures are characterized by pointed noses and bulging eyed and a double line adorns the border of these paintings.

Famous Artists

Any form of art requires the hard work and dedication of brilliant artists who work tirelessly to promote it. In case of Madhubani, a few artists whose names we must know are:

Ganga Devi:

Born and brought up in Mithila, she had seen these paintings right from her birth. They fascinated her so much that she travelled to various countries to popularize this form of painting. She displayed her work in “Festival of India”, an event organized by the USA. In 1984, Ganga Devi was awarded Pada Shri.

Mahasundari Devi:

She was a renowned Madhubani artist. She was born in Madhubani, Bihar, and learnt the art from her aunt. Mahasundari played a pivotal role in promoting not only Madhubani, but many other art forms of Bihar by establishing a cooperative society. In her lifetime, she received many prestigious accolades, including Padma Shri and Tulasi Samman. Bibha Das, her daughter-in-law is a renowned Madhubani painter as well.

Sita Devi:

She has played the most important role in getting national recognition to Madhubani paintings. She was born in Jitwarpur village of Bihar, and had started learning this art form a very young age. Bihar Ratna and Padma Shri are two of the most distinguished awards that she received. The government of India conferred the title of ‘Ship Guru’ on her in 2006.

Madhubani Today

Madhubani art pieces are loved all over the world and are the focus of art collectors from the United Sates of America, Russia, UK, and many other places. It has also found place in many items used for home décor. From walls of homes, they are now being made onto paper, clothes, mats, canvas, etc. Japan even has a museum called ‘Mithila Museum’ were 15,000 works of famous Madhubani artists are displayed. Many organizations are working to support this unique art form. Bengaluru, Delhi, and Bihar have many NGOs that are trying to promote these artists and their work.

India is a rich land when it comes to art and craft. Let us promote these unknown art forms and uplift artists. We hope that we have been successful in giving you important information regarding this impressive art form.

Hope the above article gave you detailed insights on the art form.To know about other art forms in India stay connected on Yeh Hai India

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