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The state of Bihar has a very rich & ancient tradition of folk art and craft, which has been kept alive through centuries by the families of artisans and craftsmen. The beautiful Mithila paintings is a glaring example of this richness. Madhubani painting as they are popularly known are a unique style of Indian painting created in Mithila region, and the neighbouring parts of Terai in Nepal. Famous all around the world these paintings depict the culture & art of this region and art lovers from far & wide appreciate and treasure these beautiful and unique pieces of art.
Origin of Madhubani Paintings
Though it is not possible to know
the exact time when Madhubani Paintings or Mithila art came into being;
but as per historians it originated at the time of Ramayana. It is
believed that King Jana ordered to
decorate the entire kingdom on the occasion of the wedding of his
daughter, Sita, to Lord Rama. Madhubani Paintings depict the form of
“bhaithi –chitra“ or wall art which started with women craving on the
walls to portray religious beliefs and beautify the homes. Madhubani art
comprises of five different styles - Bharni, Katchni, Tantrik, Godna
and Gobar. Bharni, Kachni and Tantrik style were mostly painted by the
upper caste women including Brahman & Kayashth women during 1960s
whereas women of lower castes did the Godna and Gobar styles. The then
British Officer of Madhubani District, William G. Archer discovered the
paintings on the walls of exposed houses during the massive Bihar
earthquake in 1934. He clicked some black & white photos of these
paintings, which are now considered to be the earliest images of this
art form. One is awestruck by similarities between Madhubani paintings
& the work of modern Western artists like Miro and Picasso.
Style & Unique Features of Madhubani Paintings
The central theme of Madhubani paintings revolves around Hindu Gods & Goddesses and is painted on walls & floors portraying the beliefs and customs of the artisans. A typical painting has eye-catching geometrical patterns symbols & lines and depicts Lord Rama hunting the Golden Deer, Lord Shiva, Goddess Kali, Saraswati & Durga, Creatures like Fish, Snakes, Peacocks, events in a human lifecycle, etc. Painted with fingers, twigs, brushes, nib-pens & matchsticks by using natural dyes & pigments. One can find paintings depicting all important occasions in a human’s life like birth, marriage, etc. major festivals like Holi, Surya Shasti, Kali & Durga Puja. Madhubani Paintings demonstrates the amazing talent of the artisans who use free hand style to paint unique masterpieces; the craftsmanship has been kept alive through ages by passing it on through generations from mothers to daughters. In these modern times to earn profits & keep this art form relevant & viable these paintings are now being created on handmade paper as well as on cloth using poster colours, etc. Tourists and art lovers add beauty to your home; this beautiful art forms and masterpieces can also be given as a gift to friends and family. Madhubani Paintings thus make perfect souvenirs which will live to tell their story through ages.
Socio-Economic Up-liftment through Madhubani Paintings
Today Government is taking steps to promote this art form and bring economic relief to the region; relevant measures are being taken to showcase the artistic skills of the women and change their lives both economically & socially. An art form and daily ritual for these women turned has now into a commercial venture with these traditional paintings becoming available for commercial sale. Today Madhubani Paintings are a globalized art form and a treasured item for art lovers across the world.
Availability of Madhubani Art
Madhubani Paintings occupy a very important place in the wide array of Indian handicrafts; now available in various forms such as wall hangings, greeting cards, t-shirts, saris (sarees), bed spreads etc. these paintings have garnered immense popularity across the world. People love to decorate their houses with rich & vibrantly coloured Madhubani paintings. One can easily buy Madhubani paintings from Dilli Haat, New Delhi, local artisans & shops in Madhubani and from various other Government recognised Handicraft Stores & Emporiums.