History of Madhubani Art!

Mithila painting (also known as Madhubani painting) is practiced in the Mithila state of Nepal and in the Bihar state of India.

I have never been to Bihar or Mithila, I have never attended any class to teach myself Madhubani, I have never read a book nor met anyone who liked painting Madhubani. If you are interested in Mithila art, but I have seen other people’s work, learnt how to do it perfectly online as being in Dubai limits me to find people who actually loves Madhubani.

Traditionally this art was practiced by women only to decorate their huts during religious and important occasions. Nowadays men have also taken up this art form and paintings are done on paper, cloth, canvas etc. But even though women in the villages around Madhubani have been practicing their folk art for centuries, the world at large has come to know about these women and to consider them to be “artists” only in the last thirty years. Even now, most of their work remains anonymous. The women, some of them illiterate, are in any case reluctant to consider themselves individual producers of “works of art” and only a few of them mark the paintings with their own name.
Madhubani paintings mostly depict nature and Hindu religious motifs, and the themes generally revolve around Hindu deities like Krishna, Rama, Shiva, Durga, Lakshmi, Saraswati. Natural objects like the sun, the moon and religious plants like Tulsi are also widely painted, along with scenes from the royal court and social events like weddings. Generally no space is left empty ; the gaps are filled by paintings of flowers, animals, birds and even geometric designs. Objects depicted in the walls of kohabar ghar (where newly wed couple see each other in the first night) are symbols of sexual pleasure and procreation.Legend says that this artform originated during the time of Ramayana when King Janak commissioned artists to paint pictures of his daughter Sita getting married to Rama.
The colors used were traditionally derived from natural sources like plants, charcoal soot, ochre etc. Black color is obtained by mixing soot with cow dung.Yellow color is obtained from turmeric or pollen or lime and the milk of banyan leaves. Blue from Indigo. Red from Kusum flower juice, red sandalwood or rose. Green from the leaves of apple trees, White from rice powder, Orange from palasha flowers.
Madhubani art has five distinctive styles, namely,
1. Bharni,
2. Katchni,
3. Tantrik,
4. Godna and
5. 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.

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