“Culture is the arts elevated to a set of beliefs” by Thomas Wolfe.
Inherent and acquaintance of a culture of a country reflects in its art and paintings. It can be said that painting and art reflect the culture and tradition of the country.
India has many folk paintings and one of them is Madhubani paintings that have its origin in Mithila origin of Bihar and Bengal and also known as Mithila painting because of its origin. Geometrical patterns having themes like festivals, religious rituals, birth, and marriages are thoughts of Madhubani paintings. Tools like fingers, twigs, brushes, nib-pens, and matchsticks and using natural dyes and pigments are used in making these paintings.
The initial extract lies in the Hindu epic Ramayana when Sita’s father, King Janaka directed painters to create Madhubani paintings for his daughter’s wedding. Over time, women of the village practiced these paintings on the walls of their homes that often illustrated their thoughts, hopes, and dreams.
The painting became the part of special occasions. Later, many art connoisseurs became attracted to this art as many contemporary Indian artists took it on the global stage. With the evolution of time, the traditional base of plastered mud wall was replaced by handmade paper, cloth, and canvas.
Styles of Madhubani Paintings
There are 5 types of Madhubani Paintings. They are-
- Tantrik Style – The theme of the painting was based on religious tests and characters in the texts and consists of paintings of Maha Kali, Maha Durga, Maha Sarawati, and Maha Ganesha.
- Bharani Style- The most important style that is filled with bright colors. The main theme were Hindu epics like Ramayana and Mahabharata. Mostly blue, yellow, and pink colors are used with a black outline. Usually, Brahmin caste women contributed to this style.
- Kachni Style- Only one or two colors were used that emphasized tangled lines and muted colors.
- Godna Style- it is the simplest form that resembles the tattoo in which natural colors are on Hindu God and Life of a tree and has concentric circles of flowers, fields, and animals.
- Kohbar Style- Practised by lower-class women of the villages who washed the paper with cow dung and used natural earth colors
Notable Madhubani Artists
- Sita Devi was one of the eminent Madhubani artists who brought the art into limelight mostly Baharani style as she was Mahapatra Brahmin. She was honored by many awards like National award in 1975, Padma Shri award in 1981, and prestigious Bihar Ratna award in 1984. In 2006, conferred on her title Shilip guru by the Government of India.
- Ganga Devi was specialized in Kachni style attempts to popularize the art form all over the world. Her efforts were praised by the National Awards for crafts and in 1984 she was awarded with Padma Shri. She painted the great Hindu epic Ramayana in a series of paintings with mild colors. Her notable work also includes Manav Jivan which resembles the various stages of life.
- Baua Devi prominent Madhubani artist painted mythological stories of Lord Krishna, Rama, and Sita with natural colors and handmade papers including black, yellow, red, and white. She received a National Award in 1984 and Padma Shri in 2017.
- Mahasundari Devi was an expert in clay, paper mache, and sujani work and received various awards and recognition. She received Tulasi Samman by the Madhya Pradesh government in 1995, National award in 1982, and Padma Shri in 2011. She founded Mithila Hastashiip Kalakar Audyogki Sahyog Samiti to promote and support artists.
Painting in Modern Times
- Madhubani paintings are still practiced in Bihar and other parts of the country. Family members of many artists are still maintaining the heritage of the art by teaching it to many women and are encouraging women to become financially independent.
- Many institutions near Mithila teach Madhubani painting. This beautiful art has gained importance not just in India but it has recognition worldwide also.