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The current form of Madhubani art

This traditional art continued as occasion painting for a very long time. In 1934 there was an earthquake in the Nepal region and there was a lot of destruction in the area. During the course of inspection of damage, it was noticed that these paintings on some walls were excellent works and compared to the likeness of the works of the renaissance painters Miro and Picasso. A drought from 1966 to 1968 crippled the region. The misery of the women was addressed by advising the women on the importance of their mural paintings which if sold could fetch them remuneration and alleviate their miserable living conditions.

Other NGOs, well-meaning individuals, short film makers all joined in to promote this fascinating art that had never seen the light of the day. Exhibitions were arranged, talk shows, film documentaries on this art, and other means of spreading the message gave this unusual art a fillip that has made it see better days and reach the level it is at today. Initially an art that was seen on walls of the royal houses in Mithila, later came to be paintings on paper and canvas in the region of Madhubani and hence today it is referred to as Madhubani Paintings.

The Theme of Madhubani Paintings

Madhubani paintings use two dimensional imagery and the colors used are derived from plants. Ochre and lampblack are also used for reddish brown and black respectively. Madhubani paintings mostly depict the men & its association with nature and the scenes & deity from the ancient epics. Natural objects like the sun, the moon, and religious plants like tulsi are also widely painted, along with scenes from the royal court and social events like weddings. Generally no space is left empty; the gaps are filled by paintings of flowers, animals, birds, and even geometric designs. The painting was traditionally done on freshly plastered mud walls and floors of huts, but now they are also done on cloth, handmade paper and canvas. Madhubani paintings are made from the paste of powdered rice. Madhubani painting has remained confined to a compact geographical area and the skills have been passed on through centuries, the content and the style have largely remained the same. This was one of the main reasons for the award of the Geographical Indication label for Madhubani Art.