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Spreading Bihar’s Madhubani Art

Bihar is famous for its traditional painting – Madhubani. It chiefly prevails in the Madhubani district of the north Indian State. Besides, its adjacent places like Jetwarpur, Ranti, Rasidpur, Bacchi, and Rajangarh are also well know for this unique art.

The painting is mainly depicted on walls, paper, cloth, religious and decorative pots and sometimes on wood. Till about 50-60 years ago, it was chiefly a decorative art – to decorate the house walls in the villages. After 1962, with interaction of people like Mr. Bhaskar Kulkarni from England, who insisted on other bases, these village artists took to paper and cloth. Later on they starting painting on sarees, duppattas, rumals (head-wears), table cloth, wood, pot and the other bases.

The raw materials used for this painting are papers, satin cloth, fabric cloth, cotton, cloth etc. For painting on paper, they use natural colours and natural powders (holi powder), which are locally abstracted. On walls and cloth, they use fabric colours.

The themes of this painting are mainly categorized into religious, natural scenes of the village, flora and fauna. The religious themes are of two branches – little tradition and great tradition. The little traditional gods like Raja Salesh, Moti Ram, Buddheshwar, Bansupthi, Tinubai and goddess like Reshma, Kusma, Downa Malini, Jutki Malini often occur on the traditional paintings. The main focus will be on Raja Salesh stories, who is the chief God of Madhubani people and stories on him. The great traditional gods and goddesses like Radha-Krishna, Mahadeva-Parvati, Durga, Kali, Ganesha, Hanuman, Ravana, Sun, Moon, and Navagraha often occur on the paintings. Village scenes, animals, birds, flowers and some designs also take place on Madhubani painting. Tattoo is a tradition of their life. The artists use these tattoo symbols in their paintings.

The Madhubani people totally rely on this art only for their living. It is their traditional profession from generations. Great artists like Ms. Sita Devi, Ms. Ganga Devi, Ms. Jagadamma Devi, Ms. Mahasundari Devi, have participated in many national and international programmes. Most of the artists are women. There is no age bar in learning this art. A child at five sits besides his mother and starts learning the traditional art. They get opportunity to sell their paintings in national and international traditional art camps. The price of the paintings depend upon the size and work, starting from Rs. 50 for the smallest. They are some times called for giving traditional on the traditional art by various institutions and museums.

The Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Manav Sangrahalay, Southern Regional Centre, Mysore, is conducting a training programme under ‘do-and-learn’ educational series on the Madhubani painting. The 15-day programme began on October 24. Renowned Madhubani artists, Mr. Ramvilas Paswan, Mrs. Urmila Devi Paswan and Mr. Shrawan Kumar Paswan of Jetwarpur, Bihar, are training about 26 people, who are evinced interest in learning this traditional work of art.

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