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iXiGOers Jul 16 2013

What are Madhubani Paintings?

Prerna Sinha Jul 16 2013
2 people found this answer useful Useful ?Yes

Painting that represent the state of Bihar and its traditions. They depict human figures, emotions, activities and festivals. They are made of natural dye using fingers, brushes, matchsticks, etc. They are originally done by the women of Mithila region of Bihar.

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Vaishali Singh Jul 16 2013
1 person found this answer useful Useful ?Yes

A plant takes root in a pot and bewilderingly but harmoniously grows into a vibrant forest, engulfing the entire canvas. A Madhubani Painting — combining myths, imagination and creativity — is a powerful image, glowing with beauty even though it consists of effortless two-dimensional line drawings filled with bright colours, depicting simple themes and motifs. Madhubanis mainly depict figures and events from Hindu mythology and nature. The paintings have a long tradition, and this shows in the way they bring forth a deep bond between the artist and the subject.

The name comes from Madhubani town in north Bihar, in the villages around which the art is practised. The paintings are also called Mithila art, after the name of this cultural region of Bihar.


Traditionally, Madhubani painting was practised by women. It was done on mud walls of their homes, which had been freshly plastered, often on special occasions like marriage, birth and festivals. The brush was made of cotton and bamboo; colours came from cow dung, soot, turmeric, pollen, flowers.

Photo of women working on a Madhubani Painting


Now men paint as well; the painting is more and more done on paper, cloth and canvas, and is for commercial purposes. A drought in this region in the late 1960s is said to have acted as a catalyst for the women to commercialise their art, as a source of non-agricultural income.


In a typical Madhubani Painting, you are likely to find depictions of the sun, moon, the tulsi plant, fish, birds and deities like Durga, Shiva, Krishna, Ram, Lakshmi. Other motifs are bamboo groves, a pair of birds facing each other and entwined snakes. Scenes from a royal court and social occasions such as a wedding may also be painted.



Photo of a Madhubani Painting


Scholars divide the broader rubric of Madhubani paintings into different traditions: Kayastha, Brahmin and Tattoo. The Kayastha tradition mainly uses black and red colours to decorate the nuptial chamber with symbols of pleasure and fertility like parrots, tortoises and birds. The Brahmin tradition is much more colourful and depicts mythology. The Tattoo paintings emerge from a repetition of the same motif, pattern or image.

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