Mithila, more commonly known as Madhubani painting is a style of art that was developed by the women of several communities in the Mithila regions of Nepal and India. Its first known appearance was in Bihar, a village in Mithila. It was and still is popular throughout the region. Though it was initially a style of wall art, artisans have transferred it to canvas and paper in recent times. The instances of this art form that are produced on paper and canvas are more popularly known as Madhubani art.
Interesting facts –
Madhubani art is highly resourceful. Paint is made from the paste of ground rice. Artists use their fingers, matchsticks, pen nibs and twigs to apply colours onto the canvas.
It’s environmentally friendly. Only natural dyes are used for the paints. Among other materials, Madhubani artists will typically use soot, charcoal or lamp black for black, indigo for blue, sandalwood for red and turmeric extracts for yellow.
Madhubani art has five individual styles, namely – Kachni, Kohbar, Bharni, Godna and Tantrik. The Tantrik and Kachni styles were originally practised by the upper caste women of Kayashth and Brahman. However, modern Madhubani art has transcended these boundaries and there is hardly any distinction by caste on this art form.
Madhubani art is a geographically unique form of art. These paintings were unknown to the world until a British officer, William G archer discovered them in 1934.
Madhubani saves nature. In 2012, Madhubani artists decorated over 100 trees to protect a forest from encroachment. The strategy worked! The spiritual and religious symbols painted onto the trees instilled a sense of respect and reverence for nature and spirituality into the locals.
Madhubani art today draws a strong following from art enthusiasts all over the world. Madhubani patterns have now been incorporated into mugs, mouse pads, cushion covers and bags.
Madhubani art is really old. It’s a 2500-year-old folk art that dates back to the era of Ramayana when the king asked an artist to make a portrait of his daughter’s betrothal to Prince Rama.
Madhubani paintings are created instinctively by artists. There is no sketching at all. This quality makes each feature unique.
This art has exclusive galleries. There are art galleries dedicated entirely to Madhubani art all over the world. Besides Mithilasmita in Bengaluru, there is a Mithila museum in Japan that displays over 850 Madhubani art pieces.
Madhubani artwork is made in accordance with a set theme. Artists use lines, pattern and symbolism to depict and emphasise cultural values such as religion.