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Madhubani Paintings


picture speaks a thousand words. The Madhbani paintings originating from the Madhubani district in Mithila region of Bihar are exquisite pieces of art initially drawn by women on the walls of their homes. Also called Mithila Art, this art form has been practiced and perfected by the communities and groups of the Mithila region in India and Nepal.



Originally done on mud walls and floors of huts, Madhubani today is done on cloth, paper and canvas. This art form is nearly 2500 year old and it was not until 1934 that it was discovered during an earthquake in Bihar. The British Colonial of Madhubani district chanced upon these paintings on the walls of the homes when he inspected the area after the earthquake.

Design and technique

The Madhubani paintings are made using twigs, fingers, matchsticks and even pen nibs and brushes. The colors used are formed from natural dyes and pigments, such as, rice paste, charcoal, soot, turmeric extract, sandalwood, indigo and so on. The paintings are usually centered on association of men with nature and scenes from ancient epics of the Mahabharata and Ramayana. Natural objects, such as, the moon, sun and religious plants are also widely painted, so are events and depictions from royal courts and social events, such as, marriage, birth, festivals of Durga Puja, Holi, Kali Puja and more. One of the earliest Madhubani paintings is said to be ordered by King Janaka to paint the wedding of Sita and Lord Rama. Interestingly, there are no gaps left within a painting. Any spaces are filled with floral, animal, bird or geometric designs. The characters painted usually have large bulging eyes, a sharp nose and are distinctly outlined. The  geometric patterns also signify qualities such as, valor, fertility, devotion and success.


The Madhubani paintings are known for five > Bharni, Katchni and Tantrik > Kayashth in India and Nepal. These paintings depicted Gods and Goddesses, whereas people of the lower classes painted the happenings of everyday life and rituals. However, today this has changed where painters practice all five > Geographical and Social connect The Madhubani paintings have for ages been done only in the Madhubani district of Bihar. This geographical focus where the art has flourished from one generation to another, with minimal influence or change in its > Also, the paintings have predominantly been a women’s forte and continues to be so, with some of the leading and recognized artists, being Sita Devi, Ganga Devi, Mahasundari Devi and Bharti Dayal. The paintings are also a social commentary on the rituals and ceremonies that are a large part of the lives of the people.

Present Times

Madhubani is practiced still in many villages in the Madhubani district, and paintings by renowned artists adorn places and offices of national importance. Today it has also gained international and commercial recognition with many admirers using these paintings as wall décor, wall hangings as well as designs on crockery, coasters, mugs and more.

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