India Today Media Institute

Written by- Kiran Kumari

Madhubani Paintings also known as Mithila Paintings, have their origin at Mithilanchal or Mithila, region of state of Bihar. Traditionally these paintings were done by women of Madhubani and the nearby areas. The paintings  were originally done on the kachcha walls, mud walls of huts but now they have found expressions on various bases- handmade paper, pulp and even fabric.

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Picture Courtesy- India Heritage Desk

Traditionally, Madhubani art has five distinctive styles- Bharni, Katchni, Tantrik, Godna and Kohbar.It is believed that till the 1960s, Bharni, Kachni and Tantrik styles were mainly done by upper caste- Brahmin and Kayashth women.Since they lived a confined existence, they were made to adhere strictly to specific themes and symbols pertaining to the rituals. They mainly  explored religious themes like gods and goddesses, flora and fauna in their paintings.

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Picture Courtesy- Crafts Villa

People from the lower caste depicted aspects of their daily lives symbols of Raja Shailesh who was believed to be the guard of the village. They allowed themselves greater freedom of expression by depicting day-to-day life.Few prominent characteristics of Madhubani paintings are that generally no empty spaces is left in whole of the frame. spaces left after drawing the images is filled with leaves, flowers, birds, or even various geometric designs and forms.No shading of colors is displayed in these paintings.

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Picture Courtesy- Gatha.com

The steady decline in the number of artists  who still practice traditional Indian art forms is a worrying trend. Indian miniature paintings , ancient and alluring, have today become extremely rare.Unlike the west, India is yet to celebrate art by preserving traditional techniques and passing the knowledge to newer generations. The USA, France, Netherlands, and Germany have various learning centers to teach classical American realism or Dutch paintings method to their art students. While India continues to lack in schools that teach classical art forms.

Sadly, most of the rich heritage of our past remains only as reference in art history books.


About the Author- Kiran Kumari is a trainee journalist at India Today Media Institute.

Published by- Shubhrika Bahadur Satyawakta

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