Madhubani painting, also known as Mithila painting is done with fingers, nib-pens, twigs, and matchsticks. The eye catching paintings are for every occasion and festivals. Most of the Madhubani paintings depict men and its association with nature, and scenes & deity from ancient epics. Natural objects, plants, social events are also represented in Madhubani paintings, which are loved by art lovers.
Madhubani which literally translates into "forests of honey" refers to a rural art form developed by women from Mithila, an area in the state of Bihar, in India. These eye catching and vibrant paintings have a very distinct style that captures the viewer's attention with their geometrical patterns and bright colors. Generally Madhubani paintings are identified by the fact that there is no space in the painting/canvas left uncovered. Typically the paintings will also have a margin or a border, but this too will be embellished with geometrical patterns, or flowers or other motifs. The colors are bright, vibrant and eye catching. There is very little shading in the paintings, though not entirely absent.
Traditionally rice ground into paste was used to create these works of art. These paintings were usually made on the eve of important dates, to mark the ceremonies to be performed, like a wedding, or a puja (prayer ceremony). Today Madhubani art is practiced on paper, cloth and other medium as well. Traditionally the domain of women, male artists are now beginning to learn and practice this art form. Almost anything can be used as brushes. The strokes are precise and bold at the same time. The colors for the paintings are natural dyes derived from the vegetation found in the forest and other natural substances. Charcoal and soot is used for black and rice powder for white. Yellow color is extracted from turmeric, red from sandalwood, blue from indigo and so on. This painting style and the natural colors used give Madhubhani paintings a raw rural charm and makes this style so popular.
Since Madhubani art developed primarily as decorations for social and religious ceremonies, the themes tend to be religious in nature. Hindu gods and goddesses are a common theme in Madhubani paintings. In addition other popular motifs that represent nature- like the sun, moon, flowers, fish, and trees are also used. Some Madhubani themes also reflect local life. There is a theory that the different styles in Madhubani paintings can be traced back to different castes. Upper caste of higher class women's styles reflected themes restricted to religious symbols and gods, while the paintings themselves displayed greater sophistry and intricacy in patterns. These are referred to as the Kanchi and the Bharini style of Madhubani paintings. While the upper castes restricted themselves to religious or mythological themes, the lower castes or classes, expanded on various themes, portraying day to day life. These paintings seem less intricately patterned but display greater emphasis on volume and depth.
Madhubani artists are practically unknown. A traditional art form passed down from one generation of women to another; very few of the painters consider themselves as artists. Madhubani paintings generally carry no mark of the creator. Sadly, several styles and schools of Madhubani painting have become extinct, as there are no practitioners of those styles anymore. Madhubani paintings began to receive national as well as international attention around the 1970s, with many Madhubani artists’ receiving national awards. National and international art markets began to recognize and create a demand for these vibrant and intricate paintings. Art Houses have developed in the state of Bihar, which mass produce Madhubani paintings to meet the demand for them. However, this business model does not recognize the individual artist and the focus is on the art house. However, the art houses are also able to mobilize and maintain interest in Madhubani paintings, thus keeping alive a centuries old art form.
Q1. What makes Madhubani painting unique?
practiced in the Mithila region of Bihar are artwork enriched with stories from
Hindu mythology and the everyday life of the people. A unique fact about
Madhubani painting is that it is practiced by women artists, whose dedication
to the art has earned them accolades in the international art sphere and
Q2. How many types of Madhubani paintings are there?
There are numerous
forms and styles within Madhubani paintings, but five major types of Madhubani
paintings can be identified.
paintings follow the technique of filling (bharna) the canvas with simple yet
intricately placed patterns that create a distinct artistic effect.
Worshippers of the
great goddess or Devi, Shiva, and other Hindu deities who have a Tantric form
prefer to create images of the divine and their Yantra (device) in the style of
Madhubani paintings, producing simplified versions of potent metaphysical
which employ only one or two colors on the canvas fall in the category of
Godna or body art is
one of the oldest art forms in human history, where parts of the body are
covered in geometric and natural designs for ritual and beautification
purposes. Sometimes the Madhubani artists, inspired by these ancient body art
forms, use its symbols and patterns in their work, creating the Godna style of
Depicting the everyday
life of the people, these types of Madhubani paintings are practiced by the
commoners who use bright colors and patterns to create scenes of Hindu marriage
rituals in the house of the bride and groom-to-be.
Q3. Which paint is used for Madhubani painting?
much like other Indian
folk arts derive their vibrant colors from natural sources available in the
surroundings of the Madhubani artists. Cow dung and soot are mixed to get
black, indigo is used for blue, rice powder gives the white shade, red
sandalwood or Kusam flower gives a red color, and leaves are used to obtain
green. Palash flowers give the fiery orange, turmeric, pollen, and lime with
the leaf extract of the Banayan tree is used to extract yellow.
Q4. What are two common styles of Madhubani?
Two common styles of
Madhubani paintings are Bharni and Katchni, based on the degree of complexity
and use of colors by the artist. Bharni style of Madhubani employs a greater
degree of intricate designs that create mesmeric forms on the canvas, while the
Katchni style uses one or two colors and follows a simpler pattern scheme.
Q5. How did Madhubani get its name?
Madhubani is the name
of a town in Bihar state, which derives its name from two words- Madhu (honey)
and Ban (forest), meaning forest of honey. It is believed that the region of
Madhubani had ample sources of honey, which gained the town and later the artwork,
its world-famous name.
Q6. How old is Madhubani art?
In Indian cultural
tradition, the origin of Madhubani art is connected to the marriage of Devi
Sita, the wife of Sri Rama and the daughter of Mithila’s king Janaka. It is
believed that on the occasion of his daughter’s marriage, Raja Janaka ordered
artists from the Mithila region to create artworks that came to form the first
examples of Madhubani art. In dating, cultural and religious beliefs shroud the
historical age of this form of folk art.
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