Mithila painting – UPSC GS1


  • Mithila painting is folk painting practiced in Mithila region of India (especially Bihar) and Nepal.
  • It is also known as Madhubani paintings which mean ‘forest of honey’.
  • It has been mentioned in ancient Indian texts like Ramayana.
  • It originated in small village known as Maithili in Bihar.
  • Initially, women from village drew paintings on freshly plastered mud walls of their home as illustration of their thoughts, hopes and dreams using fingers and twigs forming two dimensional imagery using paste of powdered rice.
  • With time, it became part of festivities and special events like marriage.
  • It was made from paste of powdered rice.
  • It also used colours derived from vegetables and plants.
  • Now they are also painted on cloth, handmade paper and canvas.
  • The central themes of Mithila paintings are based on Hindu Gods and Goddesses.
  • Its main theme is supported by traditional geometric patterns.
  • Some of main attributes of these paintings are double line border, abstract-like figures of deities, ornate floral patterns, bold use of colours and bulging eyes and jolting nose of faces of figures.
  • The various styles of Mithila painting include Bharni, Tantrik, Katchni, Godna, and Kohbar, which were historically painted only by women from the upper strata in caste system, who used to make them on mud walls on special occasions.
  • Mithila painting has been accorded the coveted GI (geographical Indication) status as it has remained confined to compact geographical area and skills have been passed on through centuries, but content and the style have largely remained same.

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