A never-dying art form

A never-dying art form

If you visited the Bihar pavilion at the recently concluded India International Trade Fair (IITF) 2015, you must have noticed the beautiful geometrical figures hanging on the walls and also for sale at one of the stalls.

Those were no ordinary art, but the prolific Madhubani paintings. Unlike any other painting, there is no use of pencil, pen or scales in Madhubani. It is done with fingers, twigs, brushes and matchsticks. Even the colours used are natural dyes and pigments. One interesting feature of this art form is that for each occasion or festival you can find a suitable painting, and no two paintings are the same.

Artist Davendra Kumar Jha made these art pieces and brought them from Jitwarpur, Madhubani, Bihar. While talking to Metrolife, Jha informs how this traditional art form commercialised after it started gaining popularity. He says, “No one knows when or how Madhubani painting came into being. Based on folk tales, the natives of Mithila used to decorate their houses by painting these figures on the walls on some occasions and festivals. It was only in the 60s, when Madhubani painting started being noticed and people understood the richness of this art. Soon they started to pursue this as a source of income. Today, these designs are not just made on handmade papers but can also be seen on dresses and other utilities.” The state award winner in Madhubani never took any formal training and learnt the skill from his mother who has also won many awards for this folk art. Jha admits that the art form did not attract him until he was 25. It was his mother who introduced him to its beauty.

“There were no schools that taught Madhubani painting which has been a tradition in my family. My mother learnt it from my grandmother and I learnt it from my mother. She taught me all the techniques and skills required for this unique art form,” the 51-year-old artist says.

Jha, who has a team of 10 Madhubani artists, started working from his home and supplied these art pieces first across the state, then across the country and now to a number of foreign countries.

Meanwhile, he hopes that his children too will carry on the legacy of his family and the tradition of this art. Jha says, “My children are currently studying, but they are interested in it. Whenever they get time, they practice with me. I will never pressurise them to pursue this but can just hope that they too will excel this art form.”

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