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The General Characteristics of Madhubani Paintings: An Indian Folk Art

Chitrangada loves the richness of Indian art, culture and traditions. As a writer, she wants to spread information about Indian culture.

Madhubani paintings depicting a Wedding ritual

Madhubani paintings depicting a Wedding ritual

Madhubani painting showing a princess

Madhubani painting showing a princess

An introduction to The Madhubani Paintings of India:

If you are an admirer of the Indian Art, you must be familiar with the Madhubani paintings, or the Mithila paintings.

Madhubani art has its roots, in the Mithila region, of Bihar state, in Northern India.

It is also practised in Nepal, which is very close to Bihar geographically.

It is basically a folk art, and is made on mud walls, or on the floors of huts and homes.

But it's beauty and popularity has spread beyond regions, and now we see Madhubani paintings on the fabrics, Sarees, dress materials, hand bags, crockery, wall hangings, canvas paintings, and even on five star hotel walls and interiors.

Traditionally Madhubani art is done on various festivals, rituals during weddings, child birth, and other special occasions, or simply to decorate the walls.

The peacock in Madhubani paintings

The peacock in Madhubani paintings

How to draw the Madhubani art, Basic techniques, Source: YouTube

Basic characteristics of Madhubani Paintings

  • Madhubani art has different styles, namely Bharni, Katchni, Tantrik, Godna, Kohbar.
  • The themes of drawings and paintings, are mainly based on the Gods and Goddesses, the Sun, the Moon, the Stars, religious symbols like the Om, the good luck symbols, auspicious signs and others.
  • These paintings, also highlight various birds and animals, which have religious importance in Hindu religion, such as elephants, peacocks, fishes and others.
  • Bamboo plants, Tulsi plants, mango leaves, lotus flower, Banyan and Peepal trees and other flora, fauna also have their significance in Madhubani art.
  • The original art, when done on mud walls, or hut floors, is done with natural colours, and natural dyes.
  • These may include dry rice powder or paste, vermillion, turmeric powder, sandalwood powder, and other natural colours, extracted from flower and fruits.
  • Basically, the paintings are done with the wooden twigs, fingers, matchsticks, or any such thing found in homes.
  • One very popular way of doing this art, is covering the edge of a thin wooden twig with a little piece of cotton, and then draw with water and Ocher soil (Geru mitti in Hindi) Paste.
  • Since Madhubani paintings have been admired by many art lovers globally, nowadays permanent colours are used to create designs on canvas, fabrics, wall hangings and others.
The Madhubani paintings have colourful flowers and leaves. It’s my pleasure that the artist of this particular Lotus painting, visited my article. Her name is SHILPI SHRIVASTAVA, and you can read her comments below.

The Madhubani paintings have colourful flowers and leaves. It’s my pleasure that the artist of this particular Lotus painting, visited my article. Her name is SHILPI SHRIVASTAVA, and you can read her comments below.

Basic characteristics of the Madhubani art

  • Madhubani art is a combination of certain floral, and geometrical designs, and they also give a two dimensional view.
  • Generally no space is left empty.
  • Whatever space is left after drawing the main subject, whether to show a wedding, a bride or bridegroom garlanding each other, a peacock, or a fish, or any other thing--the rest of the space is filled with flowers, leaves design, or any other geometrical design.
  • Usually, a border is drawn all along the painting. This could be square, round, rectangular, or any other shape, but everything is within a well decorated border.
  • Madhubani art is believed to date back to the times of Ramayan. It is believed that king Janak asked artists, in those times to capture Sita's wedding to Ram in these art works.
  • And this is how, this art was practised on the mud walls, and floors of homes all over the Mithila region.

Madhubani paintings, Tutorial, source: you tube

Madhubani art showing birds

Madhubani art showing birds

Madhubani paintings highlighting fish

Madhubani paintings highlighting fish

Madhubani art is still Relevant and Valuable

  • Ancient art, paintings, or sculptures are generally, a true reflection and indication, of the culture and traditions of people, living in those times.
  • Madhubani art is no different. But it has evolved, and that too with a purpose.
  • It is so heartening, to see the present day artists, of this beautiful and great tradition, focussing on burning social, or political issues of today.
  • By this medium, they try to convey a message to the people, and the institutions.
  • Madhubani paintings based on womens's issues, reforestation, environment, about plant and animal life, make them relevant and valuable, in today's context as well.
  • One very noteworthy effort, by the artists in this direction, was making Madhubani paintings on big trees so people do not cut it.
The Ram-Sita Wedding in Madhubani paintings

The Ram-Sita Wedding in Madhubani paintings

 Madhubani paintings on trees to convey a message and also prevent deforestation.

Madhubani paintings on trees to convey a message and also prevent deforestation.

To conclude:

Traditionally only women were involved in this folk art. But now it is being done by men folks as well.

As other art forms , it is being carried on from one generation, to the other .

It would not be wrong to say, that this art form is now highly commercialised, and not confined to a village or a particular region.

The Government of India has taken care and considerable steps, to encourage the artists related to this folk art. The

The Handicrafts organisations of the government, provides all the necessary assistance to provide raw materials, and to market the finished work. Such that, it becomes as a source of non agricultural income, for many families in rural areas, related to this traditional folk art.

References:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Madhubani_-_Mithila_Painting

http://www.craftsvilla.com/blog/history-of-madhubani-art-paintings-will-leave-you-in-awe/

Chitrangada Sharan

Madhubani art on a pure silk saree

Madhubani art on a pure silk saree

A pure silk Saree border with Madhubani art

A pure silk Saree border with Madhubani art

Madhubani paintings, source: You tube

© 2017 Chitrangada Sharan

Comments

Chitrangada Sharan (author) from New Delhi, India on July 06, 2020:

Thank you Rominder Kaur, for your kind visit and comments.

It’s good to know that you are interested in art and art work. Keep up your good work, keep exploring and enriching yourself and others.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Much appreciated.

Rominder kaur on July 06, 2020:

Lockdown period has given us ample of time to rediscover ourselves ,I am not a trained artist but art being my hobby made me search different types of arts on youtube and Pinterest. I tried to make some Madhubani paintings ,some mosaic works etc and trust me I am keen in learning these forms and other forms of art.

Chitrangada Sharan (author) from New Delhi, India on June 21, 2020:

Thank you Shivani Teki, for reading and appreciating the article. Glad you liked it.

Appreciate your kind words. Many thanks.

Shivani Teki on June 20, 2020:

Wow. This was a very informative post. It is very detailed and writter and explained beautifully juat like your art work!

Chitrangada Sharan (author) from New Delhi, India on June 12, 2020:

Hi SHILPI!

Thank you so much for your kind visit and appreciation of the article.

How wonderful of you to apprise me of the information, that you have done the lotus painting. You have done it beautifully.

I shared it via Flickr, as you must have seen the source, below the painting picture. Now, since you have informed me, I would edit the article, and mention your name.

Thank you so much. Have a good day.

SHILPI SHRIVASTAVA on June 11, 2020:

Hello !!! Nicely written. The lotus painting is originally done by me . U can see my name there . Thank you !!

Chitrangada Sharan (author) from New Delhi, India on September 26, 2019:

Thank you so much Chithra, for your kind visit and comments.

It’s wonderful to know that you are an artist. Awesome painting.

Thank you so much and glad to hear from you.

chithra on September 25, 2019:

Madhubani art showing birds. This painting was drawn by me.

Thank you for posting.

Chithra

Chitrangada Sharan (author) from New Delhi, India on January 24, 2019:

Thanks Manoj, for reading and commenting on this article. Much appreciated!

Manoj Rede on January 24, 2019:

Great groundwork and really appreciate the deliverables set in the article to show the rich culture still prevailing in India www.touchindia.com

Chitrangada Sharan (author) from New Delhi, India on November 12, 2018:

Thank you so much RoadMonkey, for reading and commenting. Much appreciated!

RoadMonkey on November 12, 2018:

What beautiful, vibrant pieces of art!

Chitrangada Sharan (author) from New Delhi, India on June 02, 2018:

Thank You Nithya, for visiting this article once again.

Yes, Madhubani Paintings, especially with stories from Ramayan look so beautiful.

Appreciate your kind words. Have a great weekend!

Nithya Venkat from Dubai on May 31, 2018:

Came back to read about this beautiful art of painting. Great pics of Madhubani paintings. My favorite is the one with Ram and Sita. Thank you for sharing.

Chitrangada Sharan (author) from New Delhi, India on November 20, 2017:

Thank you lex123 for your kind visit and appreciation of the article!

Madhubani art and paintings are beautiful and traditional heritage of Northern part of India. I myself love doing this regularly, during festivals and special occasions.

Thank You and have a good day!

lex123 on November 20, 2017:

I have seen these paintings in many houses and temples. I love this form of art though I didn’t know the name.

Thanks for sharing this wonderful knowledge of Madhupani painting with your readers.

Chitrangada Sharan (author) from New Delhi, India on November 12, 2017:

Thank You Anusha for appreciating the article! I am pleased to read your wonderful feedback.

I love Madhubani art and enjoy creating beautiful designs at my home, as part of our traditions during festivals and weddings.

Glad to know that you own some of these, made by experts in this art.

Once again thank you so much!

Anusha Jain from Delhi, India on November 12, 2017:

Wow, you've got such a beautiful collection of images here. One of my friends' mother is an artist who creates a special variation of Madhubani paintings. She creates them with a nib and a mix of black and golden ink. Gold highlights are a special feature. She gifted me one of her mom's creations. It was pretty cool.

You've written a very informative article, must say.

Chitrangada Sharan (author) from New Delhi, India on September 17, 2017:

Thanks Nithya for reading and commenting on this article! Sorry to respond late. It's always a pleasure to read your comments.

I am glad you liked the information and the paintings.

Appreciate your positive feedback!

Nithya Venkat from Dubai on September 15, 2017:

An interesting and informative article about a beautiful art form. I love Madhubani paintings, the images that you have shared are so beautiful. Enjoyed reading this article.

Chitrangada Sharan (author) from New Delhi, India on September 13, 2017:

Thank you OSBERT JOEL C for appreciation!

Glad you liked the article and the paintings!

OSBERT JOEL C from CHENNAI on September 12, 2017:

Very good article. Great paintings that portraits Indian tradition.

Chitrangada Sharan (author) from New Delhi, India on September 07, 2017:

Thanks Thelma for visiting this hub !

It's always a pleasure to read your comments. Glad you liked it!

Thank You!

Thelma Alberts from Germany and Philippines on September 06, 2017:

Wow! These are very beautiful paintings. I love them. Thanks for sharing as it is very informative.

Chitrangada Sharan (author) from New Delhi, India on August 29, 2017:

Thanks you so much Nell for brightening my morning!

Always a pleasure to read your comments!

Nell Rose from England on August 29, 2017:

Hi Chitrangada, good to see you! I love these photos, anything Indian is a favourite in my house!

Chitrangada Sharan (author) from New Delhi, India on August 10, 2017:

Thank You Shampa for your kind words of appreciation of this article!

I followed the link that you provided on FB . It's a very well written post about Madhubani art and Ganga Devi. Is it your blog or something else, I couldn't make out. But very well done indeed.

Thanks again for visiting this one and commenting on it!

Shampa Sadhya from NEW DELHI, INDIA on August 10, 2017:

It's definitely well written as well as very nicely presented. You have covered every detail of this folk art. I am sharing a link to Radhika's Fb post where she shared this article of yours. It is an article written by me about a great Madhubani Artists. I am not sharing it here as it won't be fair to do so.

Chitrangada Sharan (author) from New Delhi, India on August 09, 2017:

Thank You Radhika for reading and appreciating this article and also sharing it!

Glad you liked the details.

In fact I have made some of these folk art on my home walls during various festivals and special occasions. Many things I learnt in the process of writing this one. There is still lot to be learnt about it.

I would read your article too on this subject .

Thanks for sharing!

Radhika Sreekanth from Mumbai,India on August 08, 2017:

Madhubani folk art is one of my interesting topics that I love to know more about. In fact, I also have one hub on the same art. But I could get more info by going through this pictorial, lovely hub. Nice share!

Chitrangada Sharan (author) from New Delhi, India on July 25, 2017:

Thank You Peggy Woods for reading and commenting on this hub!

I am really glad that you liked this form of Indian folk art. Yes this is an ancient art that has been passed on from generations and in fact has grown commercially too.

Thanks a lot!

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on July 24, 2017:

Thank you for introducing me to this type of painting. It is interesting that it is done on mud walls and floors and has expanded to fabrics and even trees. It is a beautiful form of art.

Chitrangada Sharan (author) from New Delhi, India on July 24, 2017:

Thank You Martie Coetser for your kind visit and appreciation of the hub!

Glad to see your interest in Indian art and your positive comments!

Have a good day!

Martie Coetser from South Africa on July 23, 2017:

The characteristics of Madhubani art are extremely interesting. Thank you for broadening my perspective on Indian art.

Chitrangada Sharan (author) from New Delhi, India on July 14, 2017:

Thank You Nell for reading and appreciating the paintings and this Indian folk art! Glad to know about your interest in Indian art.

Thanks and have a blessed day!

Nell Rose from England on July 14, 2017:

So pretty and awesome Chitrangada, I love these! I have Indian pictures on my wall and ornaments too, so these are amazing! wonderful hub!

Chitrangada Sharan (author) from New Delhi, India on July 10, 2017:

Thank You Shyron for reading and appreciating the folk art !

Glad to read your positive comments!

Thanks and good day to you!

Shyron E Shenko from Texas on July 10, 2017:

Chitrangada, thank you for sharing the art of your beautiful country, I had not heard of the art form before.

Blessings my friend.

Chitrangada Sharan (author) from New Delhi, India on July 06, 2017:

Thank You Debangee for your kind visit and appreciation of the hub!

Glad you liked it!

DEBANGEE MANDAL from India on July 06, 2017:

Thank you for sharing these timeless paintings.

Loved it!

Chitrangada Sharan (author) from New Delhi, India on July 01, 2017:

Thank You Devika! Appreciate your kind visit and valuable feedback!

Have a great day!

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on June 30, 2017:

Beautiful art! I had no idea of this art. This art form is incredible!

Chitrangada Sharan (author) from New Delhi, India on June 24, 2017:

Thank you Audrey for your kind words of appreciation! i know you are an artist at heart, so naturally you appreciate art of any kind.

Madhubani paintings are very creative and expressive. I love to make them on special occasions at my home.

Appreciate your positive feedback . Have a wonderful day!

Audrey Hunt from Idyllwild Ca. on June 24, 2017:

I'm drawn and attracted to Madhubani art and styles. Folk art truly resonates with me. Very interesting to learn from you just how this art is created. Thank you for sharing your knowledge. I would love to have a painting. The photos are so lovely.

Chitrangada Sharan (author) from New Delhi, India on June 22, 2017:

Thank you Venkatachari Ji for reading and commenting on this article!

We all know about the richness of Indian art and traditions. There are so many diverse kind of paintings that it's difficult to know all of them. But we love and appreciate all of them.

I have a keen interest in paintings especially the ancient styles and it's a pleasure to see that they are being carried on by the next generations. And the government 's efforts to preserve them through exhibitions and financial support to artists is praiseworthy.

Thanks a lot for your positive feedback and regards!

Venkatachari M from Hyderabad, India on June 22, 2017:

Very interesting and informative hub. Even though I have seen these paintings many times in temples and houses, I came to know about the actual procedure of how they get created through your article. Thanks for sharing this wonderful knowledge.

Chitrangada Sharan (author) from New Delhi, India on June 22, 2017:

Thank you Shaloo for appreciating the hub! Glad you liked it. So good to read your comments!

Shaloo Walia from India on June 22, 2017:

A very informative post! Loved the pictures you shared.

Chitrangada Sharan (author) from New Delhi, India on June 22, 2017:

Thank You Jodah for appreciating the hub and the Madhubani paintings!

They truly are great pieces of art and it's so heartening to see that the tradition is still continuing and valuable too in today's context.

Many thanks for your positive comments feedback!

John Hansen from Queensland Australia on June 21, 2017:

Chitrangada, though I am an art lover I had never heard of Madhubani painting/art. Thes paintings you shared are absolutely stunning pieces of artwork. Very impressive. Thanks for sharing.

Chitrangada Sharan (author) from New Delhi, India on June 21, 2017:

Thank you Linda Crampton for reading and commenting on this hub! Much appreciated!

Glad you found it informative!

Have a great day!

Chitrangada Sharan (author) from New Delhi, India on June 21, 2017:

Thank You Bill for appreciating the hub! Glad to share a part of Indian Art and tradition with the readers.

Thanks and a good day to you!

Chitrangada Sharan (author) from New Delhi, India on June 21, 2017:

Thank You MsDora for reading and appreciating the hub! Glad you liked the information.

Yes it's so easy to create Madhubani designs on mud walls since this art is done with natural fruit and flower colours mixed with water. I have been doing this myself since long as it is considered auspicious on festivals, during weddings , child birth and other such special occasions and it's a part of family traditions.

Thank You and have a blessed day!

Chitrangada Sharan (author) from New Delhi, India on June 21, 2017:

Thanks MizBejabbers for your wonderful and valuable comments!

I am glad you are familiar with this art and this hub helped you understand more about this.

I have been making this since my younger days since it's a part of my family traditions.

I liked your concluding line very much.

Thanks a lot for your kind visit and appreciation!

Chitrangada Sharan (author) from New Delhi, India on June 21, 2017:

Thank you Harish Ji for your kind visit and comments! Much appreciated!

Yes these are beautiful traditions of India and I am so proud of it.

I also draw Madhubani art at my home on various festivals such as Diwali, weddings, child birth etc. , since it's a part of my family traditions and considered very auspicious.

Thank you and have a blessed day!

Chitrangada Sharan (author) from New Delhi, India on June 21, 2017:

Thank you Ericdierker for reading and appreciating the hub! Glad you liked it!

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on June 21, 2017:

This is a very interesting and educational article. Thank you for teaching me about this lovely art form!

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on June 21, 2017:

Such vivid colors. So beautiful! Thank you for introducing me to this artist.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on June 21, 2017:

Thanks for the introduction to Madhubani Paintings. Made on mud walls or hut floors? That's very impressive. Cheers to the women who started this glorious work!

Doris James MizBejabbers from Beautiful South on June 21, 2017:

I have always loved folk art, and I've been an admirer of this style of art for years, but I didn't know what it is called. Thanks for enlightening me. This is a very good article on Madhubani art. Isn't it neat on how men are now painting in this style. In Europe the old masters were all male, now western women have become artists in their own rights. Maybe this is part of the equalization of the energies by the Divine Feminine.

Harish Mamgain from New Delhi , India on June 21, 2017:

Though I was familiar with this lovely art form, I got to read the detailed information about it in this hub only. Such beautiful paintings these guys from Mithila draw that nobody can escape from the magical impression it leaves on the mind.

I have one beautiful painting in my home, which I bought from Delhi Hat a few years back.

ChitrangadaSharan, you've penned a fine article about a wonderful art of Mithila people. Thanks for sharing such a gem here.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on June 21, 2017:

Thank you, that is very fun to learn about.