What is Madhubani Painting?

Madhubani is an internationally acclaimed folk art from state of Bihar in India. It’s an art form that was traditionally passed on from one generation to another like family secrets. Its intricate beauty attracts art lovers towards it.

The minute detailing and thrill of filling bright colors in small spaces makes me paint something new in Madhubani. Just the other day I was painting Madhubani and one of my Bhaili (friend) dropped by.

She liked this style of painting and showed eagerness to know more about Madhubani painting and from where I have learned it.

My dear friend didn’t knew that my home town is Bhagalpur in Bihar and that meant seeing live Madhubani painting all around me from childhood. She got curious and wanted to know more about it. My friends herself draws beautiful mandalas. If you are interested in learning how to draw mandalas do read mandala drawing in six easy steps.

So, I thought why not share with you our conversation on Madhubani. This must help you getting basic idea about this form of art. Following are the excerpts of our conversation.

My friend: How this art got its name and its history?

Me: Madhubani is a district in North Bihar, and this art form is widely practiced in this region hence the name. It’s also believed that King Janak of Mithila commissioned artisans to paint on daughter Sita’s marriage with Ram. Mithila is birthplace of Sita, therefore this style is also called Mithila Paintings.

My friend: What are peculiar characteristics of Madhubani painting?

Me: Bold colors and larger than life abstract figures of deities form the central theme of Madhubani paintings. Normally Gods and Goddesses – like Ram and Sita, Krishna and Radha, Shiv and Parvati, Ganesh, Goddess Durga.

Faces of the figures have protruding eyes and pointed nose. Nature inspired motifs like lotus, sun and animal motifs like Peacock, fish, turtle and elephant are popular. Originally, it was done on walls with available natural colors. These days it’s done on hand-made sheets with water-based colors or on silk fabric with acrylic colors.

Have a look at couple of my Madhubani works on hand-made paper:

Radha-Krishna Madhubani Painting
Radha-Krishna
Radha-Krishna Madhubani Painting
Radha-Krishna

If you are fond of mono color paintings. Have a look at one of mine black and white madhubani painting.

My friend: Can I learn it?

Me: Yes one can learn it but since it’s an intricate art form and done free hand, concentration and patience is needed to practice it. I have shown steps for drawing this art form in easy Madhubani Painting for kids. If you have basic idea of Madhubani and want to create a Madhubani painting with more detailing, you can read my post about Madhubani painting in 6 easy steps.

My friend: That’s fascinating! Tell me more.

Me: On observation you will notice double lines all over, differentiating foreground from background and creating depth in design. Double line border is made to highlight the main painting, it can be geometrical design or flora or fauna inspired motifs. In absence of double line the painting can be called Madhubani inspired art not original Madhubani art.

My friend: What are different styles in Madhubani Painting?

Me: Different styles of Madhubani painting can be broadly categorized as Bharni, Kachni, Geru, Tantric, Gobar, and Godana.

My Friend: Great when can I learn from you?

Me: When I take next workshop on Madhubani. 🙂

Feel free to ask me any questions related to this popular art.

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Author: Megha Agrawal

Hi there, I'm Megha Agrawal based in Pune, India. I love painting, cooking, reading and trying different DIY crafts in my free time. Blessed with a loving family and friends who keep encouraging me in my new endeavors.

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