From behind the veil, her emotions does not reach too far
She added them to colors and blended them up in a jar;
Mud laden walls and some wildflowers in the vase
Her life is her inspiration and her home is her canvas!
Have you ever heard of this art form? What came to your mind when you saw a Madhubani painting for the first time?
Well, as you mull over the responses, let me take you through the journey of this art form.
Madhubani painting is one of the most recognized ancient art forms of India. Originated thousands of years ago, it is still holding a remarkable place among other art forms across the globe.
This form of painting is majorly practiced by the women of various communities of the Mithila region of the Indian subcontinent. It is also known as Mithila painting and it mainly flourished in the villages of this region.
Madhubani paintings are characterized by prominent borders, bright colors and notably outlined bold and beautiful figures. Since these paintings are originally drawn on mud walls, the colors used are mainly derived from nature. The contents of the paintings mainly include the events and deities from ancient epics, the religious festivities, cultural and traditional practices, social structure, auspicious occasions, people and their relationship with nature.
Madhubani is said to have rooted in the times of the Indian epic Ramayana. There is a popular story describing the origin of Madhubani painting. During the wedding of Sita with Ram, King Janaka of Mithila asked the people of his kingdom to paint the walls and the courtyards of their houses with beautiful paintings. The paintings depicting the culture, traditions and everyday lives of the people of Mithila so that the visitors could get glimpses about their lifestyle. As such, Mithila paintings became an intrinsic part of the everyday life of the people.
The mud walls of the huts in the villages served as the canvas to this art form for centuries and thus helped these paintings to gracefully stand the test of time.
It was only a village art until the year 1934 when a devastating earthquake hit the Mithila region. A British officer William G. Archer who was on a visit to estimate the losses due to the earthquake noticed these aboriginal and indigenous paintings on the walls of the broken huts that looked inviting even amidst adversity. He wrote articles on these paintings and since then, Mithila paintings grabbed much attention.
The Mithila region was repeatedly hit by natural calamities like floods, drought and earthquakes. During these difficult times, the women of Mithila were encouraged to bring this artwork from floors and walls to handmade papers, canvas and even cotton and silk cloth to promote it to other regions in the country. The Government of India played a vital role in making the people of Mithila aware of what they have and how can it be economically beneficial to them. Mithila paintings thus became the source of inspiration and income for many women.
The female community of Mithila has preserved, practiced and powered this art form for centuries. They have efficiently experimented with the intricacies of this artwork without compromising its authenticity. They have enriched and passed this skill from generation to generation, assuring a bright future for themselves.
For the women of Mithila, Madhubani is an irreplaceable way of understanding and expressing their world. Madhubani has surpassed the definition of an art form by becoming a source of power to transform, illuminate, motivate and ultimately empower the lives of the women of Mithila for years.
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