Understand The Background Of Madhubani Paintings Online

Are you hearing about Madhubani paintings the first time? Are you curious to know what are they and how were they originated? Several questions might be wondering in your mind. No worries! Today, we are going to discuss the whole background of Madhubani paintings online along with some interesting facts that you have never heard it before.

Understand The Background Of Madhubani Paintings Online

What are Madhubani Paintings?

Madhubani paintings are derived from the word “Madhubani” which means Forest of Honey (Madhu-honey, Bans-forest or woods). Madhubani painting is one of the famous Indian paintings that is mostly practised in the region of Nepal and Bihar especially Mithila. Thus, Madhubani paintings are also known as Mithila art. These paintings follow the complex geometrical patterns. They are created with the help of bright colours derived from plants as well as some natural sources. This art style involves the use of some special objects like twigs, matchsticks, and even fingers instead of common paintbrushes. This unique art form is used by women to decorate their house walls, door in order to seek God’s blessing spreading peace and prosperity.

Origin & Discovery

Well, if you are thinking to know the exact time of the origin of Madhubani paintings, then we must tell you that it is unpredictable. But of course, to know the origin of this art, you can go back to the Ramayana era when King Janak ordered to decorate the entire kingdom on the occasion of her lovely daughter’s marriage. At that time, the women made use of their fingers, matchsticks, and other different objects and embellished the walls and doors with the beautiful Mithila paintings.

According to our history, no one outside the Madhubani region knew about this traditional art form before 1930. In 1934, when Bihar suffered from the major earthquake, a British officer of Madhubani area who was fond of Indian art found this spectacular art on damaged walls while he was inspecting the entire area. The true inspiration for Madhubani art came out from the women’s craving for religiousness with the belief that painting would fulfil their desire to be one with God.

Madhubani paintings Evolution (From Mud Walls to Canvas)

This unique and rare art could only be seen on freshly plastered mud walls of houses in Mithila village till the ’60s. It was basically done by women of the village on festivals and special occasions. With the time, it started taking a global stage as artists began giving attention towards this art form. And gradually, the traditional base of the mud wall was replaced by handmade paper. This resulted in an increasing demand for this art form in the modern world. Now it can be seen on sarees. Dupattas, suits, bangles, cloth, cushions, canvas, utensils, wall hangings etc. Today, this type of painting is not only popular in India but also among other countries also, especially the US and Japan.

Unique Style & Design of The Art Form

The style and design of Madhubani paintings are quite different as compared to other art forms. These paintings involve the use of fingers, twigs, matchsticks, pen nibs as discussed in the upper section. In order to provide a good texture to art, it makes use of colours made up of cow dung paste. When it comes to the outline of the painting, rice paste comes into use for its framework. Basically, Madhubani art involves the use of natural materials like turmeric, pollen, pigments, indigo, sandalwood for their colour needs.  

Five Styles Of Mithila Art

This form of art follows five different styles such as:

  • Tantrik
  • Kohbar
  • Bharni
  • Godna
  • Kachni

Today, these five styles have been merged by contemporary artists. Usually, these paintings revolve around Hindu deities like Krishna, Rama, Lakshmi, Shiva, Durga, Saraswati. You will be astonished to know that the Sun and the Moon form the centrepiece of Madhubani paintings.

Once after completing the painting, if artists come across empty spaces, they fill those spaces with the motifs of flowers, birds, animals and geometrical patterns. A double line is most commonly used as the border.

Modern Twist in Madhubani Art

In modern times, the transition can be seen in both the presentation and style of art. Earlier, this art was used to be done on mud walls but now it has been replaced by canvas and paper.  With global recognition, artists have started practising all five styles of this art form. Not only this, this art is now studied at universities as an extra subject creating awareness about the art. Also, the transition took place in case of colours and twigs or bamboos where natural colours got replaced by acrylic paints. The pen nibs took place of twigs, matchsticks, and bamboos.

Techniques of Madhubani Art

It is a very simple form of art that does not require any specific knowledge. Here are easy steps to make a creative Mithila art.

Step1: Pick any design of your own choice.

Step2: Draw the design on the tracing paper and then copy it either into the cloth or paper with the help of carbon sheet.

Step3: In the case of cloth, try to use fabric colours to paint and dry it well. And if the paper is being taken into use, use poster colours. These colours are applied flat without doing any kind of shading. Use double lines for the outline creating a gap between the lines that are further filled by cross or straight tiny lines.

* In linear painting, no colours are used. Linear painting involves the outlines.

Step4:  Use black colour to draw outlines. Leave it dry for at least 24 hours. If you are applying it on cloth, iron on the backside of the cloth.


Madhubani art is the oldest and the most unique art form in which each symbol and pattern has some meaning. It was initiated by rural women which have been passed from one generation to next depicting different events like birth, marriage, and cycles of life. Whether practitioners or professionals, this art form is always driven by love for nature as well as devotion for Hindu God and Goddesses.

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Article Author Details

Patrick Cummins