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What Should You Know About Madhubani Art?

Madhubani Art (Mithila) is a type of painting art, which originated in the Mithila region of the Indian Subcontinent. Artists/painters use a wide array of tools such as twigs, nib-pens, fingers, brushes, and matchsticks. The primary feature of Madhubani Art Paintings is that they have appealing geometrical patterns.


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History and Evolution

The origin of Mithila Art or Madhubani Art Paintings links to the Mithila region of Bihar(India) and Nepal. Districts like Darbhanga, Madhubani, and adjoining areas fall in this region. This artwork is associated with the age of the Ramayana. In this Hidu epic, King Janaka, Sita’s father, orders the painters of his state to draw Madhubani Paintings on the occasion of her daughter’s wedding. Such knowledge has been gone through several generations for years and started being found on the walls of homes in this region. In the beginning, Mithila Art Paintings focused on festivities, weddings, and the depiction of gods, natural scenes, and goddesses. In the current world, these paintings depict social objectives and causes, along with folklores and traditions.   

It was William G Arthur, the British Colonial Officer of the Madhubani District, who discovered and brought Madhubani Art Paintings in an earthquake of 1934 into the light to the outer world. In his discovery, he found these paintings in the homes of the local people. Further, it was 1960 when the All India Handicrafts Board made the women of this region ready to draw paintings on canvas and paper to generate income. That time, the region was facing extreme drought. 

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Style & Design 

In the early days, different sections of people practised Madhubani Paintings. Due to this, Mithila Art Paintings were kept in five different styles like Bharni, Godna, Kohbar, Katchni, and Tantrik. However, the contemporary world has only one version of Madhubani Art Paintings, which is an amalgamation of the previous 5 versions. The themes used in these paintings are focused mainly on Hindu deities such as Rama, Shiva, Krishna, Radha, Durga, Lakshmi, and Saraswati. Further, heavenly bodies such as the Moon and the Sun have been in the center of this traditional Indian art form.

While studying deeply or buying a few pieces of this art form, you can come across paintings depicting the royal court life (king & kingdom), rural life, and social events such as weddings and baby birth celebrations. You can easily find the uses of geometrical patterns. Due to the usage of complex mathematical patterns, Madhubani Paintings are special and intriguing. Further, these art paintings are highly acknowledged for the used brushes & colors and for their simplicity, derived from natural sources. In making Madhubani Wall Paintings, artists use colors derived from turmeric, powdered rice, indigo, various flowers, sandalwood, pigments, pollen, leaves of several plants. On their counter with empty wall spaces, they fill up those spaces with the images of animals, flowers, geometrical patterns, and birds by following the techniques of Madhubani Art.   

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Notable Artists of Madhubani Art Paintings

This traditional art is alive in the contemporary world due to the efforts and contributions made by some artists. These artists of Madhubani Paintings are the persons who have been awarded and recognized at national and international levels. Some of the renowned artists of Madhubani Paintings are Sita Devi, Baua Devi, Bharti Dayal, Mahasundari Devi, and Ganga Devi.

Current Scenario

In today’s world, Madhubani Art is used on cushion cases, crockery, mugs, mouse pads, and bags, apart from being used to adorn home/office walls. Fashion designers use the design of Mithila Art as borders on different garments. 

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