Madhubani paintings : Journey from folk Art to National Art form.

Madhubani paintings : Journey from folk Art to National Art form

What is folk art form

Folk art forms are powerful media! These forms are used for conveying message to the people as most of the people are connected with them. FOLK ART is an expression of the world’s traditional cultures. FOLK ART is rooted in traditions that come from community and culture – expressing cultural identity by conveying shared community values and aesthetics.

Origination of Madhubani paintings

In these paintings generally, no space is left empty; the gaps are filled by painting of flowers, creatures, catcalls, and indeed geometric designs.

Traditionally, painting was one of the chops that was passed down from generation to generation in the families of the Mithila Region, substantially by women. It’s still rehearsed and kept alive in institutions spread across the Mithila region.

Styles of Madhubani paintings

This exceptional art form has five different styles with distinct features. These distinct styles of Madhubani paintings include Bharni, Katchni, Tantrik, Godna and Kohbar.


Bharni is a Hindi word, which means ‘filling’. The Bharni style painting is a very profound art form, precisely known for its vibrant and bright colors.Usually, the Bharni paintings depict the pictures of Hindu gods and goddesses. In the 1960s Bharni, and Tantrik styles were mainly done by Brahman women, who are ‘upper caste’ women in India and Nepal.


Katchni painting style in Madhubani paintings is a traditional style of picture coming from the Kayastha community. This particular art form has a unique individual style, mainly made using a monochrome or only two colors. The distinction in form is mainly seen in the linework of the paintings. These paintings primarily depict animals, flowers, and other natural aspects.


The Tantrik style represents the traditional and religious texts in a very precise manner. These paintings traditionally depict Hindu mythological characters, which hold the strong belief of the Hindu public. People in India generally involve these paintings in their home or any special occasion for prayers with firm faith.


Godna painting style is considered to be one of the most straightforward methods in the race of Mithila art style.The discovery of Godna Madhubani painting is believed to be done by Chanu Devi in which she used a pen made of bamboo and kajal to make the design.This art precisely signifies natural creatures such as animals, birds, plants, tree of life, and flowers.This painting style is famously done on canvas, but people also tend to use them as a tattoo.


Kobar in Madhubani painting is one of the most popular forms of the style of Mithila art. Kobar art also goes by the name of Yog Yogini, and Shiv Shakti, which means power with the blessing of Lord Shiva resides. This painting mainly depicts Hindu wedding ceremonies, and they are primarily made on the walls of the bride and groom’s home.

Achievements of Madhubani paintings

Very recently, all the government buildings of the Madhubani city, including the railway station, town hall, administrative office buildings, and government bungalows, etc. have been thoroughly covered by Madhubani paintings.

A number of long-distance trains (coaches) of India have been completely turned into artistic works showing Madhubani paintings. With such efforts on the part of government and local artists, Madhubani paintings are once again emerging as a major art form on the artistic canvas of the modern world.

Madhubani paintings got official recognition when in 1969 when the Bihar government honoured Sita Devi for her Madhubani paintings. Sita Devi was also awarded Padma Shri in 1984. Later, Sita was also honoured with the Bihar-Ratna and Shilpa guru honours.Jagadamba Devi was awarded Padma Shri for her Madhubani painting in 1975. In the year 2011, Mahasundari Devi also got Padma Shri for Madhubani painting followed by Boua Devi, who got this honour in the year 2017. Apart from these, many women have been honoured for Madhubani paintings.

Evolution from folk art to National art form

It has evolved from a folk culture tradition into a popular form of Indian art with the wheeling of time. The latter community was landless and the women turned to Madhubani art to support themselves and earn their income. In the bygone times, signs and symbols of sexual pleasure used to be painted on the walls of the rooms where newlywed couples spent the first night of marriage. With menfolk in the villages of Bihar having taken up Madhubani Painting as a profession, women have lost the monopoly over it.

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