Madhubani, which literal translates into Forest of Honey, is a small village in northern Bihar.The origins of Madhubani (or Mithila) art are shrouded in antiquity. Tradition states that this art style dates back to mythology of the Ramayana, when King Janak commissioned artists to do paintings at the time of marriage of his daughter, Sita, to Lord Ram. However the contemporary art of Mithila painting was born in the early 1960’s, following the terrible famine in Bihar. It was Baskar Kulkarni from the All India Handicraft Board in Delhi who recognized the commercial potential of this folk art form and urged the villagers to also paint on handmade paper to supplement their meager income and alleviate the poverty of the region. Over the past fifty years a wide range of styles of Mithila art have evolved, with styles differentiated by region and caste - There are mainly three schools: Kayastha, Brahmin, and Tattoo.
Religion plays an important role in the lifestyle and tradition of the people of Bihar which is reflected in their paintings of Hindu Mythology. It is the Mithila women who have kept the culture alive especially in painting. Women do most of the Madhubani paintings and their creativity can be experienced in their desire to please their gods and to develop their spirituality.
Women of upper castes mainly do the wall paintings of the Kohbar Ghar, Gosain Ghar and the Aripan Floor paintings. The use of colors would differentiate each from their work. Brahmins use colors like pink, green, yellow, lemon, blue and black. Kayastha painting consist of just black and deep red.
Ganga Devi, Mahasundari Devi, Sita Devi and Bani Devi are some of the prominent women artists.
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