Mithila Paintings: Indian Art Form


Last Updated on November 24, 2022 by Swadesi

Mithila Paintings is one of the many famous Indian art forms. Women in the Mithila region of Bihar in North India have painted colorful auspicious images on the interior walls of their homes on the occasion of domestic rituals since at least the 14th century. This ancient tradition, especially elaborated for marriages, continues today.

The colors used in Madhubani paintings are usually derived from plants and other natural sources. These colors are often bright and pigments like lampblack and ochre are used to create black and brown respectively. Instead of contemporary brushes, objects like twigs, matchsticks, and even fingers are used to create the paintings. The traditional base of plastered mud wall was soon replaced by handmade paper, cloth, and canvas.

The exhibition has been organized by the Ethnic Arts Foundation to expand public recognition and appreciation of the painting tradition’s beauty, powerful imagery, and capacity to depict classical deities, ancient rituals, and very contemporary national and global issues and events.

The paintings were categorized into five different styles, such as Tantrik, Kohbar, Bharni, Godna, Katchni. But today, these five different styles have been merged by contemporary artists. The themes used in these paintings often revolve around Hindu deities like Krishna, Rama, Lakshmi, Shiva, Durga, and Saraswati. Also, heavenly bodies like the Sun and the Moon often form the centerpiece of Mithila paintings.

A 2500-year-old folk art, the history of Mithila paintings is said to date back to the time of Ramayana when King Janaka asked an artist to capture his daughter Sita’s wedding to Prince Rama. Mithila painting was discovered in 1934 when a massive earthquake hit Bihar. The British Colonial officer of Madhubani district, William G. Archer chanced upon these paintings in the interior walls of the home, while he was examining the damage caused by the quake.

The Mithila Art Institute in Madhubani, state of Bihar, India has been training artists in the history and practice of Mithila art for over a decade.

If you ever desire to see one, an exhibition has been organized by the Ethnic Arts Foundation in Madhubani, state of Bihar to expand public recognition and appreciation of the painting tradition.


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