Madhubani Painting

Madhubani Painting

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Madhubani Painting/art’s other name is  Mithila painting/art. This Madhubani Painting or Mithila art is a style of Indian painting, practiced in the Mithila region of the Indian subcontinent. The majority of the Mithila region comes within modern-day India, more specifically in the state of Bihar. Mithila region is bounded in the north by the Himalayas, and in the South, West and East by the Ganges, Gandaki, and Mahananda respectively.

Various tools are used to create this Madhubani painting like twigs, nib-pens, fingers, brushes, and matchsticks and using natural dyes and pigments. It is characterized by its eye-catching geometrical patterns. There is the custom substance for specific events like birth or marriage, and a few celebrations like Holi, Surya Shasti, Kali Puja, Upanayana, and Durga Puja.

Origins of Madhubani Painting

The women of various communities in the Mithila region traditionally created Madhubani painting (Mithila painting). It originated from the Madhubani district of the Mithila region of Bihar in India. Madhubani region is a major export center of these types of paintings. This type of painting as a form of wall art was practiced widely throughout the region. The recent development of painting on paper and canvas mostly originated among the villages around Madhubani and these latter developments that led to the term “Madhubani art” being used alongside “Mithila Painting.”

Traditionally the paintings were created on freshly plastered mud walls and floors of huts, but now they are also created on cloth, handmade paper, and canvas.

 Madhubani paintings are made from the paste of rice powder. Madhubani painting has stayed limited to a minimized topographical region however the abilities have been gone on through hundreds of years and the substance and the style of this sort of canvases have to a great extent continued as before. Thus, Madhubani painting has received GI (Geographical Indication) status. Madhubani paintings are two-dimensional painting and the colors used are derived from plants.  Artists used Ochre, Lampblack, and Red for reddish-brown and black.

Mostly Madhubani paintings showes people and their association with nature and scenes and deities from the ancient epics. Some natural objects such as the sun, the moon, and religious plants like tulsi are also widely painted.

Normally no space is left empty; the gaps are filled by various paintings of flowers, animals, birds, and even geometric designs. Generally, the painting was one of the aptitudes that were passed down from age to age in the groups of the Mithila Region, predominantly by ladies. It is still practiced in the Mithila region. Some of the major centers of Madhubani paintings are  Kalakriti in Darbhanga,   Vaidehi in Madhubani, Benipatti in Madhubani district, and Gram Vikas Parishad in Ranti.

Various Styles of Madhubani Painting

Madhubani art has five special styles. They are Bharni, Kachin, Tantrik, Godna, and Khobar.

bharni-style-madhubani painting
bharni-style-madhubani painting

Bharni Style

Bharni means filling. This is the most popular style of Madhubani art. In Madhubani painting, bright colors are mostly used to create beautiful work. It was practiced by upper caste people which depicted mythological characters in epics, especially the Ramayana and Mahabharata which the womenfolk knew from the continued recital. Mainly the enclosed areas are filled with bright colors like blue, yellow, pink, green, orange colors, etc. and the subject is outlined in deep black.

tantrik-style-madhubani painting
tantrik-style-madhubani painting

Tantrik Style

Tantrik painting is another style of Madhubani painting. It solely depicts religious texts and characters related to them. The Tantrik style includes manifestations of  Maha Kali, Maha Durga, Maha Saraswati, Maha Lakshmi, and Maha Ganesh along with other Tantrik symbols.

 katchni-style-madhubani painting
katchni-style-madhubani painting

Katchni Style

This style of painting is created by using only one or two colors. The finest details are created and the fine pattern is made with hatching and stippling. This style of painting is still practiced by the Kayasthas of society. The kitchen means lines, it optimizes muted hues, mostly the figures.

godna-style-madhubani painting
godna-style-madhubani painting

Godna Style

This is the most simple style. Godna is commonly known as a tattoo in today’s life and it was first created by Chano Devi. It was created on arms and legs. In the beginning, a pointed bamboo pen with lampblack ink was used. This style has concentric circles of flowers, fields, animals, figures, and spirit.

khobar-style-madhubani painting
khobar-style-madhubani painting


The painting style which is painted on the wall of Khobar is known as “Khobar”. This Kohbar painting is filled with rich details and each contributing significantly to the meaning of the whole. This is practiced by the lower class of society. They wash the paper with cow dung and paintings are created using earth colors.

In the 1960s mainly 3 styles(Bharni, Kachin, and Tantrik) were created by Brahman and Kayashth women, who are ‘upper caste’ women in India and Nepal.

They painted mainly religious paintings and they depicted God’s and Goddess paintings.

Lower castes people created paintings about their daily life and symbols, the story of Raja Shailesh [guard of the village], and much more.

Nowadays Madhubani art became a globalized art form and there is no difference in the work on the basis of the caste system. Artists created their paintings in all five styles. Now Madhubani art has received worldwide attention.

Contributions for Madhubani Painting

Madhubani Art tradition played a key role in the conservation efforts in India in 2012, where there was deep deforestation in the state of Bihar. Shashthi Nath Jha( runs the Gram Vikas Parishad, an NGO) started the initiative as an attempt to protect local trees because trees were being cut down in the name of expanding roads and development.

The main reason for saving local trees was that the trees were traditionally adorned with forms of gods such as those of Radha-Krishna, Rama-Sita, scenes from Ramayana and Mahabharata, and other mythologies.

Notable Madhubani Artists and awards

In 1969, Madhubani painting got official recognition when Sita Devi received the State award by the Government of Bihar.

 Jagdamba Devi was the first artist who received a National Award in Mithila paintings. She was from Mithila.

In 1975, Jagdamba Devi got the Padma Shree award by the President of India. Sita Devi who was from Jitwarpur village near Madhubani got the National Award by the President of India also.

 Jagdamba Devi’s foster son Satya Narayan Lal Karn and his wife Moti Karn are also well-regarded Mithila artists, and they won the National Award jointly in 2003.

Sita Devi received the Padma Shri in 1981. Sita Devi was also got an award by Bihar Ratna in 1984 and Shilp Guru in 2006.

 In 1984 Ganga Devi  was awarded by Padma Shri.

  Mahasundari Devi received the Padma Shri in 2011.

 There are some other artists who got the National award. They are

 Baua Devi, Yamuna Devi, Shanti Devi, Chano Devi, Bindeshwari Devi, Chandrakala Devi, Shashi Kala Devi, Leela Devi, Godavari Dutta, and Bharti Dayal were also given Chandrabhushan (Rasidpur), Ambika Devi (Rasidpur), Manisha Jha.

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