Home Culture Mithila Art goes global
August 1, 2019

Mithila Art goes global

  • HB Kham
Art of Mithila
Art of Mithila. Photo: imartNepal

If you ever happen to see the colorful images of Sita, Ram, Krishna, Radha, Ganesh, Vishnu, Man, royal court, flowers, animals, birds and even geometric designs painted on the walls of the house you are in, then it is for sure that the particular house owner is a diehard lover of Mithila art and paintings.

The inception of Mithila Art

In ancient time women from Mithila region to express their heartfelt feelings, emotions and their dreams used to draw the images of marriages, flowers, birds, animals and even men, women,  sun and moon on the walls of their houses with their fingers.

They (women) could do all sorts of decorations of walls with the help of cow dung or mud. Later, this art form and pattern advanced gradually as some women started using twigs, brushes, and matchsticks to paint the images of things they wanted to exhibit in their paintings and drawings.

Mithila Art.Photo: imartNepal

They could also use colors to multiply the effect of such artworks in Mithila. As time changed, such practice of using decorative art started taking the place of special events like marriage and national festivals.

Since ancient King Janak is supposed to have initiated the large scale showcasing of Mithila paintings and decoration of houses and walls during the marriage of his daughter Sita to Ram, this way of artwork and painting came to be known as Mithila art as it started from Mithila region. Then, the painting on paper and canvas also commenced, that crossed the traditional boundaries. Janakpur became the center of Mithila art and paintings. Gradually Mithila became the hot topic of national as well as international arena.

Special Mithila art. Photo: imartNepal

The sparkling Mithila artwork done by Maithili women dates back to the 7th century and has been handed down from one generation to next-generation till today. This artwork is also known by an alternative name called “Madhubani art” in the Indian sub-continent.

Legacy of Mithila Art

The legacy of Mithila art goes back to the epic era of Ramayan when King Janak of Janakpur hired many artists to decorate his Janakpur town with all possible arts and graffiti to celebrate the festivities of the marriage of his only daughter Sita with Indian Princes Ram of Ayodhya. Mithila art is also associated with the concept of democracy which heralded the emergence of modern democracy.

 Mithila Art Features

Mithila art was traditionally passed from one generation to another in the families of the Mithila region mainly by women.

Initially, cow dung and mud were used to paint a variety of images on the house walls. But such practices did not lack the precision to bring to the forefront the actual symbolic representation of the Mithila art and its uniqueness.

Mithila art. Photo: imartNepal

Mithila art can be categorized into five categories for their distinctive styles. Bhami, Kachhni, Tantrik, Nepali, and Gobar. Until the 1960s the women from Brahmin and Kayastha clan used to do the Tantrik, Kachni and Bharni style of paintings before they were commercialized.

Content of Mithila Artwork

Traditional Mithila artwork usually paints the images of men with its association with nature and scenes from the ancient epics. We can see enlarged paintings of natural objects like Sun, Moon, marriages, flowers, animals, birds and geometric designs, besides narratives of mythological and religious events.

Mithila Arts. Photo: imartNepal

Any gaps in the painting are filled with paintings of animals, birds, flowers and even geometric designs. And this artwork is still alive in the Mithila region even today. This art can be done in the paper as wells as clothes.

Images of Hindu deities such as Ganesh, Radha, Krishan, Vishnu, Sita and Ram and occasions of Holi, Kali puja, Durga puja, Shasti, and Upanayana are widely used in Mithila artwork and paintings.

Mithila art today is creating job opportunities across Nepal and India. Art lovers globally seem to be interested in this art and paintings and are ready to pay for this art.

Today, we can perceive the rapid commercialization of Mithila artwork as the products such as cushion covers, bags, coasters, mugs, crockery and mouse pads, table linens, napkin rings, walls and floors of homes and lamps are seen with patterns of Mithila art painted in them.

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