Madhubani Paintings of Bihar

Origin : Once upon a time, 2500 years ago, prince Ram married Sita, the beautiful daughter of king Janaka. During the wedding, king Janaka asked an artist to capture his daughter’s wedding and so was born the Madhubani style of painting. However, prior to 1930 was a well-guarded secret of Madhubani region. In 1934, Bihar was hit by a major earthquake. This resulted in British officer of Madhubani area William G. Archer discovering this unique art on damaged walls of Madhubani region while he was examining the earthquake damage.

Historically, during festivals, these paintings were crafted by women on walls and floors of their houses. Originated in the Mithila region in Bihar, it’s named after its mother village, and thus is also known as Mithila Paintings.  

There are two different styles of Madhubani painting depending upon the different caste. The Upper caste of higher class women reflect religious and mythological themes in comparison the lower caste reflects day to day life in their paintings. Some of the distinctive styles of Madhubani paintings are Bharni, Katchni, Tantrik, Godna and Gobar.

Present Day:  Ranti village in Bihar houses a large percentage of women who still proudly indulge in Madhubani painting.  Karpuri Devi, sister-in-law of eminent artist Mahasundari Devi, Dulari, and Mahalaxmi are three generation village women, who have immensely contributed in keeping this art form alive. 

In 2012, Madhubani paintings protected more than 100 trees from being cut. As these trees were decorated with Madhubani painting. Forms of gods and spiritual symbols such as Radha-Krishna, Rama-Sita etc. were painted on these trees resulting in none of them being chopped off. 
Today, prints of Madhubani are also used to enhance the beauty of table linens, napkin rings, and lamps, wall hangings etc. Silk sari borders, dupattas, kurtis etc. are also painted in Madhubani style.  This handicraft serves very well as a gift item, decorative piece, keepsake, souvenirs etc.

Procedure:  Its specialty lies in de facto that it’s made with fingers, nib pens, twigs and matchsticks. Traditionally, it’s painted only with vibrant hues with an outline of rice paste as its framework. There is this peculiar quality of Madhubani paintings that there is no place left uncovered on the canvas. Borders are decorated with geometric and floral patterns. 

Natural elements like fish, parrot, elephant, turtle, sun, moon, bamboo tree and lotus form the theme of these paintings.  The procedure of making Madhubani paintings has remained same over the years. For the making these, a bamboo stick is required and cotton is wrapped around it. This bamboo stick with cotton works as a paint brush. The colours used in paintings are from natural extracts like white colour comes from powered rice, red from sandalwood, black from charcoal, yellow from turmeric, orange from flowers, green from leaves, and blue from indigo etc. 

There is another standard pattern followed in these paintings that there is no shading in the application of colours. They also draw double line for outlines and then the gap is filled with either cross or straight tiny lines. 

These paintings are exported by Craffi The Karigar to different countries and earn a huge revenue as an export item. Some of these counties are USA, Australia, UK, UAE, France, Germany, Russia etc. Art lovers across the globe love Madhubani art. 

Bring Home: These paintings are available different art houses across the country, however the mass production is done in Bihar and are also sold locally. 

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