Exploring the Incredible Art of Madhubani Painting : A Look Into India's Ancient Art Form

Exploring the Incredible Art of Madhubani Painting : A Look Into India's Ancient Art Form

Madhubani paintings are recognised as one of the ancient styles of painting from the Asian sub-continent. They originate from the ancient region of Mithila, located around the Madhubani district in present-day Bihar, India.

Madhubani art was practiced widely throughout the region and emerged as a form of wall painting; the more recent development of painting on paper and canvas mainly originated among the villages around Madhubani. That rise in popularity led to the term "Madhubani art" being used alongside "Mithila Painting."

Originally, Madhubani Art was practiced onto hut walls and floors of newly plastered mud houses. It was later deemed as “Kulin” art and was practiced by women belonging to the Brahmin and Kayastha castes. These techniques have been passed down through the ages, by the women in Madhubani, with the content and the style remaining consistent.

Madhubani painting has remained confined to a compact geographical area and the skills have been passed on through centuries. In recognition, Madhubani painting has been given the GI (Geographical Indication) tag to honor the living tradition of the region.

These paintings, characterized by intricate geometrical patterns, with subjects like gods, the sun, moon, flora, and fauna, along with depictions of the royal court and public occasions like weddings being painted in storytelling format.

One can also find traditional Hindu motifs with forms such as Tantric, Buddhist, Islamic sufi depictions in a Madhubani painting. In addition to the beauty and simplicity of the paintings themselves, this traditional Indian art form is renowned for its use of plants and other natural sources. Artists create these paintings using a variety of mediums, including their own fingers, or twigs, brushes, nib-pens, and matchstick. The paint is created using natural dyes and pigments.

Eco-friendly materials such as cow dung and bamboo sticks as brushes are used extensively. Vivid and bright colors using lampblack with a contrast of black and brown hues with ochre are well used to form these paintings.

With the growing demand, artists have started using cloth, handmade paper and canvas as their media, shifting from wall art. Initiatives have also been taken by artists, connoisseurs as well as the Government to form institutions to teach the craft to young artists in order to preserve and keep the tradition of Madhubani paintings alive.