Madhubani paintings are one of the most famous art forms of Indian paintings. Having originated in Mithila, Bihar and some parts of Nepal, these paintings also go by the name Mithila art. Popular Madhubani paintings trace famous legends of Rama, Krishna, Durga, Kali, Shiva, Lakshmi, Saraswati and Indra and various abstract scenes of Kings’ courts and their courtsmen.
The Madhubani paintings are more than 2500 years old and have a lineage of extensive Indian culture and heritage. Madhubani actually means a forest of honey!
Their origin stretches way back to the times of Ramayan wherein Sita’s father, Mithila Naresh, commissioned several Madhubani artists to design these. Hence these are also widely known as Mithila paintings. Since the village they were incepted in was called Madhubani, they took their name after it.
In historic and mythological times, these paintings were done by women and on the mud walls of the huts of the villagers. As these paintings caught on, they gradually transitioned from being painted on mud walls to cement walls and cloth and canvas.
As per some reports, in 1965, the Mithila region suffered serious draught. As an effect of this, artisans cut out on the painting of Madhubani. Aided by a socialist Bhaskar Kulkarni, the Central Govt. intervened and provided the artisans with free supllies of materials.
Encouraged by this, the artisans took to painting the Mdhubani art with double spirit and this art flourished further across the country. These paintings were sold extensively at exhibitions, handicraft shows and other cultural shows thus providing further momentum to this celebrated art form.
Various Designs of Madhubani Paintings
The Madhubani painting is a very vast , extensive and varied art form. It has many styles to its credit. Some of the most popular and prominent styles of Madhubani paintings include- Bharni, Kachni and Tantrik which were initially done by the Brahmnin and Kshatriya caste of the society.
The other styles included Godna and Kohbar.
The paintings basically depicted Gods and goddesses, the daily lives of people, flora and fauna. Madhubani paintings tracing elephants, peacocks, fish became immensely popular and to this day are greatly in demand.
Madhubani Paintings Progression
The Madhubani paintings have attained global recognition today and are highly celebrated form of craftsmanship. Of the many forms of the Madhubani paintings, three forms are extremely popular today and more and more artisans are engaging in these styles.
In this style, the paintings are replete with rich colors. They constitute mainly mythological aspects and depictions. Lord Vishnu, Lord Krishna, Maa Durga are the most popular deities traced in this style of Madhubani art.
This style has a distinct characteristic to it. The artists are mainly women and they use purely monochrome colors in their painting. Mostly traced on hand made papers and the likes, this form basically hails from Rassedput village of Madhubani district.
Madhubani: Reflection of our Glorious Heritage
The Madhubani Mithila art form today is a highly valued craftsmanship form and an asset to the Indian culture. Patronized by the Ministry of Textiles, the Madhubani art form today is a full-fledge means of employment with both men and women actively participating in workshop classes held regularly by the Indian government and taking it up as a full time profession.
The Madhubani paintings are not just a local craft that earns livelihood to many, it is a walk down our country’s rich past. A detailed stydy of the age old Mithila paintings give us a direct insight into what the socity life was during pre-historic times.
The fact that it still is an integral part of our culture and carries our name globally speaks volumes of the legacy it carries ahead of it. And it is heart warming to know that the modern generation has nurtured this art form and will certainly continue doing so!