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Madhubani Paintings - An Art from Mithila

Updated on December 2, 2017
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Deepika loves to read , write and explore about art and craft work of different areas.

Madhubani Paintings

‘Madhubani’ or ‘Mithila’ Paintings are originated from Mithila region of Bihar, India. Mithila Painting is indeed a unique style of painting which enticed many eyes from all over the world.The beauty and style of this painting are so ethnic and traditional that they are among popular paintings from India.

Madhubani Painting


Techniques used in Madhubani craft

Mithila Paintings are generally done with fingers twigs, brushes, pen nibs or matchsticks and dyes and pigments are used to color these paintings. Earlier, Madhubani paintings were used to do on freshly plastered mud walls or on the ground. But, nowadays as technology is changed the style of the paintings also gets modernized, now these paintings were done on clothes and papers as a canvas rather than mud walls but the uniqueness of painting style still exist today also. In villages today also they are done on mud wall and huts on festival, occasions, and ceremonies.

Different colors used in these painting are extracted from nature like yellow from turmeric, blue from indigo, red from flowers and black from cow dung and mixed with mud used to give texture to wall or border. Various natural dyes made from vegetables or leafs are also used to color these paintings.

The most important thing to notice is that no empty spaces are left in these paintings these are filled with flora and fauna pictures.The outline of painting and every character made in this painting is thick clear and dark. These paintings include fish type eyes of figures and pointed nose of each character of the painting.

There are some fixed symbols and patterns used in every painting which are often known as the signature of Madhubani art, for example, Peacock is used to represent romance in life, fish eyes are used for fertility and tortoise is made for good luck charm.

Today, these paintings are done on skirts, clothes, bedsheets, suits, dupatta, wall – hanging and cushion covers.These various customer products are often in demand by many e-commerce websites which makes these paintings digitally popular as well.

Types of Mithila painting

Mithila painting usually is done in these styles which are as follows:

  • Bharani
  • Katchi
  • Tantrik
  • Godna
  • Kohbar

Earlier, Bharani, Katchi, and Tantric are done by upper caste women while Godna is by lower caste women of village or community but nowadays there is not any community discrimination in practicing for any type of this painting.

History of Mithila Art

There is an interesting story about how these paintings were discovered. When a heavy earthquake struck is Bihar and the state is heavily damaged in 1934 before the independence of India. William G. Archer British officers who visit to Mithila to see the condition of region founded these painting on damaged walls of houses. He mentioned it to British personnel and from there the whole world came to know about the existence of this style of paintings.

These painting generally includes themes of stories of Lord Krishna Life and Ramayan epic. It is also a maxim that these paintings were made in that era. When King Janaka ordered painters from Mithila to capture the captivating wedding ceremony of their daughter Sita in these painting and from there this tradition is undergoing.

Themes Included in Designs

The themes of these paintings generally include the family joyful occasions and ceremonies like marriage, birth, festivals like Holi. Makar Sanskriti, Diwali, Surya Shakti, Kali – Puja, Durga Puja and many more.Today Mithila and Madhubani village is the major exporter of these painting in the form of wall art, clothing designs, bedsheet design etc.

Earlier, The Madhubani paintings done by upper caste women are generally includes painting themes as flora and fauna, the story of god or goddess while the lower cast women painting themes includes the life of the emperor, their daily routines, stories of villagers.

But now the caste system and restrictions are removed from paintings and so all people whether women or men all caste people can adopt any style of Mithila paintings.

A Local Shop Selling Madhubani Paintings


Famous Artists of Madhubani Paintings

The Madhubani painting has already received national and international recognition. Sita Devi in 1969 was the first Madhubani painter to receive state award after that Jagdamba Devi in 1975 received Padma Shri award for her painting from Mithila.

Institues of Madhubani Paintings in India

Today many organizations are there to retrieve this art style. Ranti village in Madhubani is popular in having institutes to teach these paintings. Non-governmental organizations like ‘Kalakriti ‘ in Darbhanga district of Bihar also taught this art to locals.

These painting today also became the source of saving trees from deforestation. Painters from Mithila make these painting on trees and these painters include themes and figures of various gods and goddess, so the woodcutter did not cut the tree and help in saving trees.


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