Origin and features of Madhubani Paintings
The Madhubani painting originated from the Mithila region in the state of Bihar, India and is thus also known as Mithila painting. The term madhu literally means honey and bani refers to forest. So, those living in the hilly wooded terrains of Bihar gave birth to this wonderful art.
Features of Madhubani Paintings
These Paintings were originally made by the women of the village, on the walls of their homes. Influenced by the traditions and culture of those times, they painted popular mythological figures such as Ram, Sita, Krishna, Radha, Durga, Shiva, Lakshmi and Saraswati; picture of nature such as the Sun, Moon, starry nights and religious plants such as the Tulsi (sage); seasonal festivals and so on.
• The Techniques used in Madhubani painting were guarded by the women in the family and were passed on from generation to generation and from mothers to their daughters.
• The artisans who created Madhubani paintings would invoke holy sprits, divine blessings and Mother Nature herself, before proceeding to create a work of art. This seems one of the plausible reasons why their paintings mostly revealed the blissful creative side of nature, including flora and fauna, animals, fishes, birds, the natural cycle of life and death and many other aspects of creation, even geometrical figures. Using bright, vibrant colours, Madhubani paintings verily pulsate with life and verve.
• Though these women carried on with their paintings for centuries, this art was known and acknowledge only as late as the 1960s, when the area was affected by severe drought. Looking for a different, non-agricultural way of earning money, they began to bring their paintings out into the open in a bid to sell them and earn a livelihood.
• Originally depicted on freshly plastered must walls of huts and displayed during family functions, scared rituals, ceremonies and marriages, the same gradually began to be done on handmade paper, fabric and canvas.
• Incidentally, there is one version that talks about Madhubani paintings being as ancient as the Mahabharata itself. It relates how king Janka hired artists to paint on the walls of the palace at the time of his daughter, Sita’s marriage to Lord Rama.
• Madhubani paintings use two dimensional imagery and uses natural colours derived from plants. Ochre and Lampblack are also used to get reddish-brown and black hues respectively. Because the art has been confined to a single geographical region and has been passed down through generations of families, the style and content of the painting has mostly remained the same.
Contribution of the Evolution of Madhubani Paintings
Sita Devi of Jitwarpur village, Ganga Devi and Baua Devi were the ones who were responsible to transform the Mithila paintings from village walls onto canvas and paper. The today’s artists such as Pushpa Kumari, Karpuri Devi, Jamuna Devi, Lalita Devi, Sarita Devi, Godawar Dutta and Mahasundari Devi are among the foremost contribution of the art