Madhubani Art or Mithila Art

Kohbar of Mithila made by Artist Padma Shri Sita deviSource: Wikimedia | Kohbar of Mithila made by Artist Padma Shri Sita devi

These folk paintings are handmade by women artists of Madhubani.

As a unique characteristic, these paintings often show big, bulging, fish-like eyes and sharp noses.

An Original Madhubani Painting is always UNIQUE - only 1 copy exists, and is painted by a Madhubani Artist recognised by Govt. of India.

 

 Where did Madhubani Art originate?

Madhubani village in Bihar and Mithila villages in Nepal.[Location of Madhubani District in Bihar, India]

Did you know that Madhubani is a district in Bihar Region of India, bordering Mithila in Nepal. Historical whole area was called Mithila. For generations, Creative Women Artists of the region have been decorating the Walls of Homes and Community Places in Mithila, with this Art-Form. Now-a-days, it is popularly known as Madhubani Art - inheriting the name of the district - 'Madhubani'. 

Madhubani PaintingsSource: Wikimedia | Madhubani district, Bihar

Any historically significance?

Mythologically, Mithila Naresh or King of Mithila - Raja Janak employed local women to decorate the walls and floors of his Magnificent Royal Palace on the occasion of his daughter Sita's wedding with Ram, the prince of Ayodhya!

How is it made?

Down the centuries, the women of Mithila kept this tradition alive by painting on the walls and floors of their houses during festivals, ceremonies or special occasions. Mithila paintings show double-bordered figures that have big bulging, fish like eyes and sharp noses. Generally, no space is left empty, and gaps are filled with geometrical patterns. Madhubani paintings use 2-Dimensional imagery and has 5 distinctive styles - Katchni, Bharni, Tantrik, Godna and Kohbar. The Finer and the more Detailed an art work is, the more Valuable and Pricier it becomes.

Naturally occurring things, like vegetables, minerals, and cow-dung, are mixed and processed to make its colours.

Natural Paint Colour from Turmeric.

Bright Natural Yellow Paint from Turmeric

Natural Paint Colour from Beetroot.

Natural Red Paint from Beetroot

Some artists now have started using Acrylic colours as well. These natural colours are then painted using fingers, twigs, brushes, nibs and sometimes match sticks giving a sense of antiquity.

What does it symbolise?

Remember, these were first made on the Auspicious occasion of Sita's Marriage with Prince Ram?

Each Madhubani painting, symbolises love, valour, longevity, auspiciousness, knowledge, spirituality, prosperity and harmony with nature.

Madhubani Art-Forms depicts humans and their association with Nature and Society. They show scenes from the royal court and social events like wedding, & deities from ancient epics like Rama-Sita, Shiva- Parvati, Vishnu, Ganesha and Durga, or elements from nature like animals, birds, the Sun, the Moon, trees and flowers. 

Is Madhubani Art relevant today?

With higher Aspirations and better Living conditions, the Significance and Desire for Art is increasing in India and World.


Being an age-old folk Art, Madhubani is much sought after these days. In fact, people of Japan are very fond of this art form and have Mithila Museum in Nigata region on Togamchi mountain, having 15,000 Madhubani paintings.

An interesting thing about traditional art form that has made it more relevant today, is that it can be adapted to contemporary subjects. These days Mithila or Madhubani paintings can be seen on everyday objects like Canvases, Wall Hangings, Sarees, Bangles, Handbags and Lampshades.

 

Are these Authentic?

Geographical Indicator or GI in short, is a tag allocated by the Government of India, as a recognition of intellectual property on natural or industrial products and processes, and traditional skills that are Exclusively associated with a particular place of origin.
Mahasundari Devi an artist from Madhubani famous for Mithila Painting
Mahasundari Devi, an artist from Madhubani, famous for Mithila Painting was awarded by the president of India in 1982 for her commitment to art.

The GI tag ensures that none other than those registered as authorised creator are allowed to use the popular product name. GI tag gives assurance about the Authenticity, Quality and Distinctiveness of the GI-tagged Product.

For centuries, The Art of making a Madhubani painting has remained confined to a small geographical area, where generations of Artists have passed on their knowledge to their children. This has helped preserve the content and style to a large extent. 

In 2007, Madhubani Paintings were Designated as a Geographical Indicator.
Want to read more about Art? Here you go.

1 comment


  • Vanshika

    Hello Sir/ Madam, good day to you. I’m an art student from chennai and for a project i want to explore the love i have for Madhubani painting. If its possible can i get in touch with one of the madhubani or kalighat painters. Thank you.


Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published