Madhubani Painting The Global Art:10 unknown facts about Madhubani painting

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Nestled in the flood plains of the Ganges, the Mithila region has given rise to ancient cultures and is the birthplace of a significant body of classical arts and literature. We find the earliest references to Mithila in the great Indian epic narrative Ramayana, and it is believed that Mithila artists adorned the walls of the whole kingdom to celebrate the wedding of their Princess Sita with Rama, the Prince of Ayodhya.

India is a country of creativity, art, and culture. Madhubani painting is one of the most famous arts in India and abroad. The style of this painting is still used in some parts of Bihar, especially Mithila. Since the style of this painting originated in the Mithila region, it is also known as Mithila paintings. This unique style of these arts was used by women to decorate their homes and doors to get the blessings of God in the form of prosperity and peace. Madhubani will learn about art through this article.

Wedding in Madhubani Painting (Source:Social Media)

Madhubani (also called Mithila) art has been practiced by the women of the region through the centuries and today it is considered a living tradition and a source of liveli. The art not only depicts the social structure but also the cultural identity of the land.  It has changed very little over time in terms of its form and style and Mithila art remains inseparable from people’s daily lives, rituals and festivals. It would be appropriate to say that the art is a part of the social fabric—it is a primary vehicle for preserving moral values and cultural narratives as well as for bringing together families and neighbours during festivities. These celebratory occasions are really enjoyed by the people of this region—every new season and social occasion calls for elaborate rituals accompanied by symbolic activities and art-making. Some of these are described in greater detail in this article.

Women have played a central role in perpetuating this heritage and until recently, only they created these paintings, closely guarding the distinctive elements of their family’s artistic lineage, which were transferred from mother to daughter. After the men left for work in the fields, the women would finish their household chores and sit down in groups to paint. While painting, they would also sing hymns and prayers, or perform family rituals. Thus, the activity of painting was also a social act of bonding and communing.

10 Amazing and interesting facts about Madhubani painting

1. Madhubani is a district in Bihar, which means honey forest. This painting is local art of Madhubani district, hence its name read Madhubani painting. This art portrays nature and mythology depicting various events like marriage and the cycle of birth. Originally, lotus flower, bamboo, bird, snake etc. artifacts are also found in these paintings. These images are depicted as representing reproduction and spread of birth.

2. Madhubani paintings are generally based on images of Lord Krishna and religious themes such as scenes from Lord Krishna, Ramayana. According to history, this art originated in the Ramayana era, when on the occasion of Sita’s marriage, her father Raja Janak organized a large number of artists to decorate the entire state with this unique art.

3. Madhubani paintings are painted with natural colors, in which cow dung and mud are used to improve these paintings in the walls. Artists used only natural colors in their art, including turmeric, pollen, or chose blue and blue with indigo. The juice of safflower flower was used for red color, sandalwood or rose. Similarly, we can say that the artists also used various natural materials for their color needs, which reflects a unique art in themselves. Originally these paintings were done on the wall of the huts, but now it is also done on cloth, hand made paper and canvas.

4. How Madhubani paintings were discovered: Before 1930, no one outside of Madhubani region knew this rare decorative traditional art. Bihar suffered a major earthquake in 1934. William G. Archer, a British official from Madhubani region who was very fond of Indian art and culture, saw this unique art on the damaged walls of Madhubani during inspection.

5. Madhubani paintings are of two types – murals and aripan. Mural painting is done exclusively on the walls made of clay at three places in the house: family deity / goddess, newly married couple (Kohbar) room and drawing room. Aripan (Alpana) is an art made by drawing lines on the floor to depict lotuses, feet, etc. Aripan is performed on certain rituals such as Puja, Vrata, and Sanskar.

Kohbar in Madhubani Painting (Source : Social Media )

The Mithila style of painting can be divided into three primary forms—bhitti chitra (murals or wall paintings)patachitra (art on canvas, which came later) and aripana (made on the floor). Bhitti chitra and patachitra comprise colorful depictions of gods, nature and rituals using colors that were traditionally derived from natural ingredients such as stones, leaves and flowers. These days however, mostly chemical colors are being used.  Aripanas are based on geometrical shapes and made with ground rice on the floor, typically outside the house, as a symbol of welcoming the gods. These creations also feed the birds and make for an interesting exchange between people and creatures. In fact, birds and various creatures, from fish to snakes, find a prominent place in Mithila art.

Madhushravani in Madhubani Painting (Souce :Social Media)

As discussed earlier, the Mithila region has a vast number of festivals and social rites which are depicted in the symbolic language of Mithila art. Some key ones include upanayana (sacred thread ceremony), marriage, kohbar (paintings done on the walls of the nuptial chamber or kohbar ghar), Madhushravani (celebrating the arrival of the monsoon, the festival is considered particularly auspicious for newly married couples), Lakshmi Puja, Deepavali (festival of lights), Govardhan Puja (celebrated on the fourth day of Diwali), Chhath puja (a festival dedicated to the Sun god and his wife), Basant Panchami (Saraswati puja), Holi festival, Shivratri (worship of Shiva), Ram Navami (celebration the birth of Rama), Sama Chakeva (celebrating the migration of the birds from the mountains back to the plains), Nag Panchami (worship of snakes to provide good harvest), Janmashtami (celebration of Krishna’s birth), Magha Saptami (harvest festival celebrating the coming of spring), Devotthan Ekadashi (celebrating the awakening of Vishnu), and Chaurchan (worship of the moon). Most of the rituals also involve folk songs usually related to stories of divinity sung by groups of women.

Chhath Puja in Madhubani Painting (Source:Social Media)

6. Painting is done on the outer and inner walls of the rooms and on Marba, in marriage, Upanayana (holy threading ceremony), and festivals like Deepawali, etc. on some auspicious occasions. Sun and Moon are also depicted as it is believed that they bring prosperity and happiness to the family.

7. This painting plays an important role in the prevention of deforestation. It is a fact about this amazing art that makes these paintings unique. Madhubani artists use Madhubani paintings to stop trees from being cut. Madhubani art is not only for decoration because most of these paintings depict Hindu deities. Artists make pictures of Hindu deities on trees, due to which people stop cutting trees or they have stopped cutting trees.

8. This traditional Madhubani art was practiced by women living in rural areas of Bihar. But today, things have changed and now this style is not only popular among the people of India, but also among the people of other countries, especially America and Japan. During traditional times, this type of painting was done on clay walls with fresh plaster. Now, it is done in Madhubani painting on canvas, cushions, paper or even cloth. Now people are doing Madhubani artwork on utensils and even bangles.

9. There is also an international demand for Madhubani paintings. The people of Japan are very familiar with the Madhubani art of India and it is famous and acclaimed in many other countries. A ‘Mithila Museum’ is the brainchild of Tokio Hasegawa, located in the Tokamachi Hills in Niigata Province, Japan, which houses a treasure trove of 15,000 exquisite, unique, and rare Madhubani paintings.

10. Organizations dedicated to this art: There are many organizations working in support of this rare art of India. There are several exclusive galleries in India and abroad with a collection of Madhubani paintings. In Bangalore, Delhi, and Bihar, many non-profit organizations are working with and supporting Madhubani artists.

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