Madhubani Painting | For BPSC, BPPSC and BSSC

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Madhubani Painting is historical and cultural heritage of Bihar as well as of India. It is also known as the Mithila Painting. It is practised mainly in the districts of Madhubani, Sitamarhi, Muzaffarpur, Darbhanga, Saharsa, Madhepura and Supaul in Bihar and  bordering districts in Nepal. Although it was started and dominated by women but now-a-days male painters are also doing Madhubani Painting. It got international recognition only in recent times.

Different Art Forms of Bihar

Historical Background

Madhubani Painting traces it's history from the marriage of Sita. At the time of the marriage of Sita, King Janak ordered to paint the walls of the whole state of Janakpur with colourful paintings, which was later known as Madhubani Painting or Mithila Painting.

During the Earthquake Survey (1934), British officials got to know about the Madhubani Painting as a folk art from the ruins and started researching on it.

Despite all above, it got the recognition of the state government only in 1969 and that too after a lot of efforts done by Sita Devi. Initially it was painted on mud walls and plastered walls but now-a-days it is also painted on canvas, paper and even on clothes.

Types of Madhubani Painting 

There are two types of Madhubani Painting:-

  1. Wall Painting
  2. Aripan Painting

1. Wall Painting

Wall painting is further subdivided into two types:- (I). Painting of Gosani and (II). Painting of Kohbar.

I. Painting of Gosani

Gosani is basically the room where religious activities are performed. The paintings of Gosani are mainly religious in nature. The paintings of gods and goddesses such as Durga, Sita-Ram, Radha-Krishna, Shiv-Parvati and Vishnu-Lakshmi are painted on the walls of Gosani. In these paintings the contribution of Brahman and Kayashtha families are most important  and significant than any other groups.

II. Painting of Kohbar

Kohbar is the room dedicated to newly wedded couples, that's why the walls of the Kohbar room is generally painted with the sensuous paintings. These paintings include images of Kamdev, Rati, Yakshini and Male & Female sex organs. 

Besides above, pictures of leaves, trees, flower, animals, humans and birds are also painted in background.

2. Aripan Painting (Rangoli)

Similar to Rangoli, Aripan is painted in the courtyard and in front of the gate. In Aripan painting, ground rice mixed with water and colours is used. Aripan paintings are basically of five types:-

  1. Showcasing vegetation such as trees, flower and fruits. 
  2. Paintings showcasing Animals, brids and human beings.  
  3. Paintings symbolising Magic (Tantrik). 
  4. Paintings of gods and goddesses. 
  5. Painting of Swastik, Earthen Lamp etc.

Besides above different types of paintings are done on different occasions. For example, on the occasion of Tulsi Pujan by unmarried girls, Geometrical figures mainly triangles and rectangles are drawn in Aripan. On marriage occasions, paintings of leaves ae drawn as Aripan.

Note:- All these paintings are done by using fingers and bamboo brushes. But now-a-days modern paint brushes are also used for Madhubani Painting.

Features of Madhubani Painting

1. Background of Paintings 

In background of Madhubani Paintings, pictures of trees, flowers, fruits, animals and human images are painted. But these images are painted only for representation purposes. For example if a brid is to be painted then only symbols of birds are used. 

If a girl is to be presented then instead of focusing on physical beauty and shape, only their work, qualities and philosophical aspects are covered.

2. Colours Used in Paintings

Main colours used in Madhubani Paintings are black, green, yellow, red orange, and violet. But now-a-days synthetic colours are also used because of their commercial availability and easy to use.

Colours used in Madhubani paintings are obtained from natural sources. For example black colour is made out of burning Kohl (Kajal), yellow colour is made by mixing lime with the leaves of plum and milk, red colour is obtained from the flower of Kusum, orange is obtained from Palas flower and green colour is obtained from the leaves for 'lima beans'.

Current Scenario

Important painters of Madhubani Painting are Sita Devi, Ganga Devi, Baua Devi, Godawari Dutta, Padmashri Jagdamba Devi, Satya Narayan Lal Karn, Bharti Dayal, Kaushlya  Devi etc.

Now-a-days it got maximum popularity all across the world. Recently many exhibitions of Madhubani Paintings re being organised one of such exhibition is of the paintings of Shashikla Devi was organised in Japan.

A museum of Madhubani Painting is also being constructed in Tokamachi City of Japan. suck kind of museum of Madhubani Painting is not even constructed in India.

Currently important centres of Madhubani Painting are Madhubani, Simari, Lahria-Sarai, Ranchi etc.


Although Madhubani Painting traces it's history from the marriage of Sita, but it got maximum popularity in recent times.

Similar to other folk arts, Madhubani Painting is also heavily synced with the daily life Festivals in Maithili speaking population of Bihar and Nepal. 

Now-a-days there is a very good demand of clothes(especially sarees) painted with Madhubani paintings on them. 

To promote Madhubani Paintings, Indian  Railways and Government of Bihar painted the Sampark Kranti Express with Madhubani Painting and are planning to paint other trains (bound to Bihar) as well. Indian Railways also painted the Madhubani Railway Station with the Madhubani Paintings.