Art is an expression that makes use of the cultural symbols. The archive of the collective memories of a culture is perceived to be drawing, sculpture, poetry, literature and other media. Art retains what fact-based historical documents do not: how it felt at a certain time to live in a specific period.
Madhubani is one such art form we are going to talk about in today’s blog. Majorly practised by the people of Nepal and Bihar (A North-eastern state of India), is now one of the most popular art forms. The Madhubani paintings are also known as art of Mithila because this style of painting originated from a place called Mithila (in Bihar, India currently).
What is Madhubani Art?
Madhubani paintings are a type of folk-art form. The painting of Madhubani is represented by line drawings filled with bright colours and contrasts or patterns. Using natural dyes and pigments, this drawing is done with a number of materials, including fingertips, twigs, brushes, nib-pens, and matchsticks. It is classified by its eye-catching geometric patterns.
The Madhubani paintings consist of ritual content such as marriage or birth and festivals. Due to their tribal motifs and use of vivid earthy colours, Madhubani paintings are famous and can be easily recognized. The drawings are done with the artists' formulated mineral pigments. Ideally, Madhubani art is done on a newly plastered wall or a mud wall.
The work is now being done on paper, fabric, canvas etc for commercial purposes.
History of Madhubani Art Form:
The history of Madhubani paintings is said to date back to the time of Ramayana which is about 2500 years ago. King Janaka, ruler of Mithila Kingdom in the 8th or 7th century BCE, requested an artist to represent the wedding of his daughter, Sita, to Prince Rama. And since then, whenever any house of Mithila celebrated a happy occasion, people drew Madhubani paintings on the walls of their houses.
The paintings are the painters' sole monopoly and their interpretation has been transferred from down the generations, from mothers to daughters. Girls learn from childhood to play with a brush and with paints. The final moment is the decoration of the Kohbar, the room of the house where, after their wedding, the new couple stays. Historically, the women of the area have done this type of painting, but today men are also participating to satisfy the demand.
Mithila Painting is one of the world's most unique types of folk art, created by women, maintained by women and still practised by women and now by men too.
Selectiveness is the beauty of this art form in its creative expression. In ancient times, on auspicious days, this art was made on mud-walls or soil-ground and was erased the very next day. And this is why these works have not been preserved.
While, as the common oral tradition indicates, the origin of this art form dates back to the Ramayana period (ancient India), it went through different phases of history during the mediaeval period and very little history is known of this time.
The painting of Mithila or Bhitti Chitra (aka Graffiti) was discovered when a major earthquake struck Bihar in 1934. William G. Archer, the British Colonial officer of the Madhubani district, saw these paintings in the interior walls of the houses as he inspected the damage caused by the earthquake.
Themes and Colour Patterns In Madhubani Art:
The paintings are, basically, spiritually inspired. In both portraits, the central theme is passion and fertility. They are made in specific rooms in the home, such as the prayer room, the ceremonial place, the bridal room, or the village's main walls to greet guests, etc. The sketches of nature and mythology are changed and tailored according to the theme of each area, as well as the individual artist. Worshiping Hindu deities and episodes of their holy texts, the monkey, the sun, the moon, the vine of Tulasi (Basil), the Deep (it is a typical lamp made of soil, a token of a peaceful life), marriage scenes and other social activities are the most drawn themes and styles.
Females pray to the divinities before beginning the art, so that their favour accompanies them in their aspirations or rituals. The cotton wrapped on a bamboo stick is used as a brush for its interpretation. The colours that are added are processed by the artists manually. The black colour is prepared by combining the blight with the cow dung; the yellow colour is prepared by mixing curcuma and Banyan leaf milk; the blue colour is derived from the indigo; the red colour of the Kusum (Ceylon oak) flower; the green colour of the applewood tree; the white colour of the rice powder; and the orange colour of the Palash (Bastard teak) flower.
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The works of art on mud-walls were not a symbolic reflection of the tales of the epics; rather, they were specifically linked to Hindu myths and a real representation of it. This art's incessancy was due to the natural and living portrayal of social life in which there was a deep interconnectedness between individuals. There were also close ties to the use of colours for religious values and hopefulness for their well-being.
Did you know? The Madhubani Art form saved a forest from being cut down!
In 2012, about a 100 trees were painted in the Madhubani style. Shashthi Nath Jha, owner of the NGO called Gram Vikas Parishad came up with this initiative in order to save trees that were being cut down to widen the roads. This proved to be a successful way to raise awareness among villagers of its impacts, such as climate change and global warming.
Interesting, right? More surprising is that although the campaign was a costly one, not a single tree was cut down (the villagers used synthetic paint to make the artwork last longer). The primary explanation behind this was that the trees were painted with gods and other divine and philosophical images, and other mythologies. This instilled respect and discouraged the removal of the trees.
Modern Madhubani Paintings:
The commercialization of Madhubani paintings started in 1962 CE, when the paintings attracted an international artist who travelled through this area. He convinced women to paint the same sketches on canvas, so that in his country he could take them and show them. The design was a great success and so started the commercialization of paintings by Madhubani. Since then, in various respects, the way of art has diversified.
Pavel Szabo / Shutterstock.com
Art-loving visitors from around the world have taken a particular interest in India's rural tourism and heritage, and paintings by Madhubani have grown exponentially beyond Mithila's walls. Madhubani painting is internationally common, especially in countries such as Japan, Germany, France and the United States. Hashegawa, founded by a prominent Madhubani art lover, exhibits about 1000 Madhubani paintings of different themes and styles at the Mithila Museum in Tokamachi, Japan.
Pavel Szabo / Shutterstock.com
You can also take inspiration from this beautiful and thoughtful art form and draw some amazing Madhubani paintings.
But before you start with it, here’s a list of art supplies you’ll need for it:
King’s Framing & Art Gallery is a hub of higher concentrated pigment acrylic and oil paints. Shop for them at great discounts. Brands like M.Graham, Sennelier, Gamblin, Lukas, Winsor & Newton and Artisan Water Mixable oil paints are some of the best ones when it comes to oil paints. On the other hand, brands like Jacquard lumiere, Liquitex Professional, M Graham Professional, Pébéo Acrylic Paints are known as some of the best acrylic paints brands.
A magical wand to create fantastic masterpieces. Shop for brushes at King’s Framing & Gallery. The Connoisseur Acrylic & Oil paint brushes, Art-pro Multimedia Brushes & Sets, Dynasty Acrylic and Oil paint brushes & Sets and Silver Brushes Acrylic & Oil Sets are some of the brands that you absolutely need!
Let your masterpiece shine and at the same time be protected from any unwanted factors. And for that, you need the best varnish. Shop for varnish at King’s Framing & Art Gallery!
Canvas Pads / Sheets
Canvas / Panels / Art Boards
Get the best deals on various drawing tools this month at King’s Framing & Art Gallery!
Hope you loved our blog and keep on exploring your creativity with the Madhubani paintings. Happy shopping!
Happy heART to you!