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Madhubani Form of Art

Madhubani or Mithila painting is an Indian art form. It is primarily practiced in the Mithila region, popularly in Bihar, Jharkhand as well as West Bengal of India. It is also practiced in some border areas of Nepal adjoining Bihar. This art form involves a variety of tools, including fingers, twigs, brushes, nib-pens, and matchsticks and using natural dyes and pigments. It is characterised by its eye-catching geometrical patterns.Major themes showcased in this art form includes as birth or marriage, and festivals, such as Holi, Surya Shasti, Kali Puja, Upanayana, and Durga Puja. Womenfolk of these areas primarily practice this art form and is in high demand around the globe.

The paintings were traditionally done on freshly plastered mud walls and floors of huts, but now they are also done on cloth, handmade paper and even canvas. The primary medium used is a paste of powdered rice with mix of colours derived from plants. Ochre, Lampblack and Red are used for reddish-brown and black, respectively.Though this art form has remained confined to a compact geographical area and the skills have been passed on through centuries, the content and the style have largely remained the same. Thus, Madhubani painting has received GI (Geographical Indication) status.

Madhubani paintings mostly depict people and their association with nature and scenes and deities from the ancient epics. 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. Kalakriti in Darbhanga, Vaidehi in Madhubani, Benipatti in Madhubani district and Gram Vikas Parishad in Ranti are some of the major centres of Madhubani painting which have kept this ancient art form alive.

Madhubani art has five distinctive styles: Bharni, Kachni, Tantrik, Godna and Kohbar. In the 1960s, Bharni, Kachni and Tantrik styles 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 paintings. People of lower castes included aspects of their daily life and symbols, the story of Raja Shailesh [guard of the village] and much more, in their paintings. Nowadays, Madhubani art has become a globalised art form, so there is no difference in the work on the basis of the caste system. They work in all five styles.

Kobhar of Mithila by Padm Shri Mithila Devi
Kobahar of Mithila by Padma Shri Sita Devi
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