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Madhubani Painting – an Ancient art in Modern times

Madhubani Painting

Madhubani Painting

Mithila art or Madhubani art, as popularly known, is among the most notable contributions of Bihar that puts Indian art and craft on the world map.

One can find many options for home decor, accessories and clothing with Madhubani theme priced under INR 500/- and under 5,000/-. 

Madhubani Painting : An Introduction

The most clichéd description of the Indian culture may well also be the most accurate one – that is full of diversity, where every corner of the country contributes to its richness through local art and craft.

Mithila art or Madhubani art, as popularly known, is among the most notable contributions of Bihar that portrays Indian art and craft on the world map.

The art form, which originated in Mithila region of Bihar and Nepal – believed to be the birthplace of Sita, largely draws inspiration from Ramayana, and other festive practices, and nature. The ingredients used for painting back in olden times was natural dye and pigments, and people used twigs, nib-pens, matchsticks, and even their fingers to create Madhubani art.

Watch this video to understand how Madhubani Paintings are made:

Madhubani Painting: Cultural Transition

Originally created on walls, the paintings used to be a means for displaying festive and cultural practices, day-to-day activities, social messages, and even passing on some specific knowledge.

Further, five different styles of the art form, namely Bharni, Kachni, Tantrik, Godna, and Kohbar was popular among the locals; Bharni, Kachni, and Tantrik styles being made by Brahmin and Kayastha women, and had religious themes depicting Gods and Goddesses. Godna and Kohbar styles, on the other hand, were popular among women from other castes and described different facets of their daily lives.

In modern times, however, both the presentation and style of art has seen significant transitions. While canvases and papers have now replaced the walls, Madhubani art has also created a niche in apparels and home decor. Similarly, the use of art style based on one’s caste is also a thing of the past, as with global recognition coming its way, artists have started practicing all five styles of Madhubani painting.

Hand-made table cloths featuring Madhubani Paintings

As contrary to previous times, when knowledge of the art passed on from one generation to the other as a legacy or teaching, the art form is now formally taught at universities as a distinct subject, with pupils specializing in the discipline.

Social Impact and Future Prospects of Madhubani Painting

The biggest impact the art has had in the last few decades is on the social condition of women in Bihar, bringing them both recognition and a source of livelihood.

In what remains an otherwise conservative society for them, these women are coming out as an inspiration for many.

For instance, Sinni Shoshya, a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) student at Patna Arts & Craft College, practices the art during her leisure time after college to fulfill her passion and at the same time financially support her family.

‘Dupatta’ with Madhubani theme embroidery

She has been closely associated with me through her contributions to ‘Get Pampered,’ a contemporary online & offline fashion boutique started by me to provide a commercial platform to promote such regional crafts along with other modern trending designs in women’s ethnic wear. Madhubani art along with numerous other regional art forms are finding a wider audience through such online portals.

The contributor of this article on Madhubani Paintings is Sneha Narain, who promotes the traditional handicraft through the brand “Get Pampered”.

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Starting Price for accessories is Rs. 200, for Home Decor items, it is Rs. 1,000/- and most of the clothing, especially for women, start at Rs. 2,000/-

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