There are hundreds of love stories like Romeo & Juliet, Heer & Ranjha, Raj & Simran etc. Still one of the praiseworthy stories that live in the heart of every Indian is of Lord Ram and Sita. If by any chance there was a camera 7000 years ago then we might have pictures like Ranbir and Alia but unfortunately, we did not. But what if there is live evidence from that time, not photographs but handmade paintings from Ramayan? Because we do! Indian and Nepalese art forms namely Madhubani Paintings are stills from the epics of Ramayan. Allow us, Rooftop, to take you on a journey where you will get to know every aspect of this legendary folk art of India.

Image credits: Saffron Art

Origin & History of Madhubani Painting

Mithila, a region in the state of Bihar, northern India and some parts of Nepal has an important tradition of story-telling in the form of Madhubani painting. Mithila is also the prime exporter of Madhubani art. Generally, eye-catching geometric shapes characterise this painting. These paintings depict celebratory occasions such as birth, marriage, and festivals like Holi, Surya Shasti, Kali Puja, Upanayana, and Durga Pooja. 

Women of various communities create Madhubani paintings. Mithila or Madhubani painting started off as primarily painting freshly plastered mud walls and floors of the hut were originally the areas for drawing but over time handmade paper and canvases took over.

Commonly depicted themes are scenes of Lord Ram and Sita’s marriage, Shiva and Parvati’s union, local festivals, and the sun or moon. This art form is named after the place it originated from, Madhubani, which means a forest of honey. Initially, upper-class women would create these paintings but now women from various communities practice this art form. The women breathe an air of life into these paintings by illustrating stories around mythological figures, animals, and various elements of nature. They made use of natural dyes and hues, and they would apply them by using twigs, fingers, and matchsticks.

Designs & Colours

Since various communities practise the art of Madhubani painting, this art has various styles. The 5 widely known styles are Tantrik, Kohbar, Bharni, Godna, and Katchni, all being unique. Due to their distinctive styling, they would occupy a special place in the royal courts. Its mesmerising geometrical patterns add yet another layer of intrigue to these paintings.

Pigments for these paintings are extracted from natural elements. Such as powdered rice, turmeric, indigo, pollen, flowers, sandalwood, and leaves of various plants and trees. Artists prepare these paints themselves. There is no room for emptiness in these paintings. As blank spaces are filled with motifs of flowers, birds, or geometric patterns. A double line is preferred for borders.

Image credits: Saffron Art

Significance of Madhubani Painting

A well-known face of Indian folk art is Madhubani, it symbolises the creativity and compassion of its people. This painting depicts the ideology of the society it belongs to; it also reflects the morals, customs, rituals, and values of the region compellingly. It’s also feministic art practice as women create these paintings on a large scale, they carry the legacy of Sita. Women’s dominance is a prime feature of this folk art. The art form is sensitive and selective in its artistic expressions. 

Taking a step further to popularise this art Rooftop conducts workshops with expert artists. Educating the know-how of Mithila art. You are missing out on the greatest art experience. Register now and be a part of India’s Leading art community. 

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