It is an Indian-style painting practiced in the Mithila region of the Indian subcontinent. It is a traditional folk painting that is created by using different tools such as twigs, brushes, nib-pens, natural dyes, and many others. These paintings are eye-catching geometrical patterns.
These paintings are traditionally created by women belonging to various communities in the Mithila region. The origin of this art is traced back to the Madhubani district of Bihar. Madhubani is a major export center of these paintings. This painting is practiced throughout the region of Madhubani. They are practiced by the people on paper and canvas. These arts are known as ‘Madhubani art’ as well as ‘Mithila painting’.
Theme and depictions
These paintings were used to be painted on the freshly plastered walls and floor of huts. In modern times, it is created on paper and canvas. Even they are imposed on the clothes too. Along with its traditional reputation, it is organic in nature. They are made from powdered rice paste. It is confined in a specific geographical area and the skill of art passed through the generations. The style and application are almost the same as the old format. It has received GI (geographical indication) from the government of India. This art is using mainly two-dimensional figures from its early developments till now. Organic and eco-friendly colors are used in the creation of Madhubani paintings.
These kinds of paintings depict nature, human association with nature, deities, and animals. Some religious plants such as tulsi, peepal, and the royal court, as well as natural bodies such as sun, moon, and scenes, are painted in the Madhubani paintings. One of the most sophisticated characteristics of these paintings is that there is no space left in the painting and all the empty spaces are filled by, flowers, animals, and sometimes with geometrical figures.
Madhubani painting is used in the decoration room, prayer room, in the room of newly-wed couples, and for the welcoming guests. Although some people believe that it is iconography and indicator of the religious depictions but in fact this painting is completely created for the religious images. It doesn’t indicate but bluntly show in the image forms.
These paintings are known to be very religious in nature. The women who paint them were used to praying to their deity first and then started painting with only natural colors, they used blue colors from the indigo, white from rice, yellow from turmeric, orange from the Palash flower, red from the Kusum flower, and so on.
There are five distinct styles of Madhubani painting which are Godna, Kohbar, Katchni , Bharni, and Tantrik. In the 1960s Bharni and tantrik paintings were only created by the upper caste Brahmin women only but as of now it created by anyone mainly due to the globalization of this traditional art. today, it is created by people all over the world.
Modern application and popularity
Madhubani painting is now globalized. It is one of the most popular paintings in Japan as well as in other Asian countries. Not only in Asia but European countries are too admiring this art form.
Vikash Kalra is a self-taught artist & writer based in New Delhi whose work has been exhibited across India and is held in several private and corporate collections.