Why Madhubani Art?
Madhubani literally means ‘forests of honey’ and refers to paintings in a distinct style that captures viewers’ attention with their vibrancy. ‘Madhubani’, is a folk art handed down over thousands of years from the times of Ramayana. Tradition states that King Janak of Mithila commissioned artists to make paintings for the wedding of his daughter, Sita, to Lord Ram. The womenfolk of the village drew the paintings on the walls of their home as an illustration of their thoughts, hopes, and dreams.
With time, the paintings became a part of festivities and special events. It was unknown to the outside world until the massive Bihar earthquake of 1934. House walls had tumbled down, and the British colonial officer in Madhubani District, William G. Archer, inspecting the damage, ‘discovered’ the paintings on the newly exposed interior walls of homes. Archer was stunned by the beauty of the paintings and their similarities to the work of modern Western artists like Klee, Miro, and Picasso. Slowly and gradually, Madhubani paintings from Bihar, India, crossed the traditional boundaries and started reaching connoisseurs of art at the national as well as the international level.
Madhubani paintings, done in villages around the present town of Madhubani, were usually done on freshly plastered mud walls of huts. These paintings use two-dimensional imagery, and the colors used are derived from plants. Traditional themes generally revolve around Hindu deities like Krishna, Ram, Shiva, Durga, Lakshmi, and Saraswati. The paintings also depict natural objects, like the sun and moon, and religious plants, like tulsi (holy basil). Other motifs include scenes from the royal court and social events, apart from activities from daily life.
Madhubani is a unique folk art that is said to beckon the gods every morning who comes invisibly to the household to bless the members of the family and to bring prosperity. Hence my fascination with it!
About Bandiworks and Me
I’m a multi-disciplinary artist who enjoys engaging with folk art from across the world – with a special focus on India. The idea is to share with people the simplicity of these creative forms and my love for them – I find them so empowering. I design and conduct experiential workshops for all age groups, giving a contemporary bent to heritage Arts and Crafts.
At Bandiworks, one of the artforms we worked with extensively is ‘Madhubani’ of Bihar. We have adapted this folk art to create contemporary custom-made articles of use as well as curated paired experiences which introduce you to Madhubani in different settings. Be it along with the traditional food of Bihar, the Dashavatar rendition in Kathak, or the intricate folds of Origami. This juxtaposition makes for thought-provoking forms of expression and gives rise to unexpected conversations.
India Currents and Bandiworks Connects
Join me, in collaboration with India Currents, for a free LIVE Madhubani drawing workshop on March 31st at 6:30pm PDT and 9:30pm EDT.
Sign up for the event here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/146816172123
Join us from anywhere in the world to celebrate Holi and draw Madhubani art.
This event is for all ages and will run as a 1.5 hr online workshop on Zoom.
No previous drawing skills required!!
You will walk away with the knowledge of an age-old traditional art form, appreciation for it because you’ve drawn it yourself, and an hour of relaxation and fun – much needed during these times.
- A4 sized paper (Thicker is better. Handmade paper if you have access to it)
- Fine tipped gel/fibre tipped pens in black and red (fine-tipped sharpies)
Look forward to seeing you all there!
Bandana Agarwal is passionate about folk art from around the world and hopes to make it accessible!