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Whether it is the Nalanda University, the ancient erudite centre of learning or the transcendental Bodh Gaya treasuring rich history or the panoramic landscape of Bhagalpur, Bihar, they are enveloped with subtle attractions for which the traveler needs to have a profound taste. But the real pride of Bihar lies in its proficient artisans who have swung the art of Madhubani to the focal point of the national podium.
History and Origin
The term Madhubani has been acquired from two terms ‘Madhu’ that refers to honey and ‘Ban’ which is connotative of forest. The Madhuban region is located in Mithila (a place in Nepal) and Northern Bihar. The origin of the art of Madhubani is weaved in an enchanting tale much like the hues and shades of the paintings. According to the anecdote the genesis of Mithila art dates back to the period of King Janaka who ordered for the decoration of the town of Mithila (the birthplace of Sita) for the wedding of his daughter, Sita, with Ram. The tradition of wall painting also known as ‘Bhitti-Chitra’ laid the cornerstone for the contemporary form of Madhubani art. Since, this art has its root in the Mithila region it also goes by the name of Mithila art.
Madhubani is universally known as the women’s art and is traditionally created by the Brahman, Dusadh and Kayastha families of the Mithila region who have been practicing this folk art since the 1800s. Upper-caste women chose the medium of art to amplify their devotion towards deities as they believed that painting the divine would push them closer to the divine. The mothers have transmitted the nuances of the content and style of this art form to the daughters and hence, the art has remained confined within this region and is also considered to be one of the geographical indications.
The precise and immaculate paintings are accomplished by fingers, powdered rice paste, brushes, twigs, pen nibs and matchsticks with natural colours and dyes. The dyes used in the paintings are derived from trees, fruits, flowers and spices. These paintings were initially carved on the walls smeared with cow dung and mud in the ‘Kohbar-ghar’ or the nuptial chamber. The significance of the Kohbar ghar is that the newly-married bride and groom would spend three nights without cohabiting. The earlier paintings were all about lotus plant, bamboo grove, fish, turtle, parrots, birds and snakes in union that were symbolic of fertility and proliferation.
Madhubani art boasts of five principle styles which are Bharni, Katchni, Tantrik, Godna and Gobar. The period of 1960s witnessed the Bharni, Katchni and Tantrik styles being adopted by the Brahmin and Kayastha women of Mithila. Owing to their upper caste legacy, the paintings by Brahmin women had vivid religious overtone through the depiction of deities and mythological figures. The style of painting popularized by the Kayastha women was replete with tortoise, fish and birds that were emblematic of fertility. The Dusadh caste enlivened their paintings (also known as Godhana or Tattoo paintings) with the motifs of flora and fauna they were prohibited to use images of the sacred texts owing to their lower caste identity. For the lower castes the paintings became an expression of their daily life and symbols along with anecdotes of Raja Shailesh (considered to be the guard of the village). In its globalised avatar, such demarcations have gradually blurred.
Although traditionally Madhubani art was created during the weddings and later during important festivals of Holi, Kali Puja and Durga Puja, presently the meticulous motifs of Madhubani have made their way into matchbox, ludo, papier-mache and jewellery boxes among other things. Efforts have been made by French novelist Yves Vequad through his film ‘The women Painters of Mithilia’ and German Anthropologist Erika Moser to promote this heritage vintage art.
In the domain of fashion, designer Agnimitra Paul was quick enough to identify the charisma of this art form and replicated it on her brand of sarees, anarkalis, maxi dresses and separates rendering Madhubani a new lease of life through an edgy twist at the LFW Summer/Resort 2015. Celebrated Bengali Actress Rituparna Sengupta was seen in Madhubani outfits by the designer.
So my fashion aficionados what are you waiting for? Make room for Madhuabni in your heirloom treasure trove and stay vibrant during the gloomy monsoons!
Picture source: http://www.triveniethnics.com, http://www.iness.in, http://www.rangdeindia.jp, https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com
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