Madhubani Oil Painting also referred to as Mithila Painting is practiced in the Mithila region of India and Nepal. The artists use all possible tools including fingers, twigs, brushes, nib-pens and matchsticks to paint. The characteristic of this painting is the use of natural dyes and pigments and the eye-catching geometrical patterns. They are also characterized by the ritual content of the occasion such as birth or marriage and festivals such as Durga Puja, Kali Puja and Holi.
Madhubani Oil Paintings are traditionally created by women and that too from the Brahmin and Kayasth communities of the region. The Madhubani Art originated from the Madhubani District of Bihar, which lies between the Terai and Ganges and Narayani and Koshi tributaries of Ganga. Madhubani art was originally practiced was originally practiced on the walls before it got moved to the paper and then canvas and became oil painting in the modern sense.
The Madhubani Oil Painting style was originally done on freshly plastered mud floors and walls, but now it is done on a variety of media including cloth, handmade paper and canvas. This style of painting during its early days were colored with the paste of powdered rice. This painting style largely remained confined to a geographical area and that is why it has not been invaded by other artistic styles.
Madhubani paintings depict the relationship between men and deities of the ancient times and men and nature. Natural objects that are considered divines like Sun, Moon and the plants like Tulsi are conspicuously included in the paintings. One of the notable characteristics of Madhubani paintings is that the gaps are filled with paintings of animals, birds and flowers. This skill was been handed over from one generation to another and that is how the institution of Madhubani paintings has been kept alive and is currently widely practiced by women across the Mithila region.
Five distinctive styles have evolved in Madhubani paintings, namely Bharni, Katchni, Tantrik, godna and kohbar. Interestingly till the middle of the last century, the first three styles were only practiced by the upper caste women – Brahmins and Kayashths. Their themes centered around religion- gods and goddesses and flora and fauna. People of the lower castes generally depicted their own lifestyles. But the things have changed now and this painting style has globalized and is practice now cuts across all castes and creeds.
- The origin of Madhubani paintings has been tracked back to times of Ramayana. It is said that the King Janaka, father of Sita arranged artists to capture the marriage scenes with their colors and brushes and this is when the Madhubani painting style was born.
- The artists in Bihar are using Madhubani paintings to protect the trees from being chopped. They are covering them with Hindu Deities
- There is a Mithila Museum in Japan, which has more than 850 paintings. The museum also promotes this painting style.
Chic Wall (www.chicwall.in) has tremendously contributed to this art. It has created over fifty different Madhubani oil paintings covering scenarios from Mahabharata and Ramayana as well as the lifestyles of the times when Madhubani evolved into a distinct form art form. Chic Wall has made these paintings very affordable so that the families can liven up their walls with the vibrant oil paintings. As a matter of fact, Chic Wall has reinvented Madhubani Oil Paintings, giving them more contemporary colors and touches.