Madhubani, Bihar

Madhubani Painting

Madhubani art originated in Mithila region in North Bihar. Dated back to the times of Ramayana, Madhubani paintings came into being when Raja Janak asked the women of his kingdom to decorate their houses for his daughter Sita’s wedding to Lord Rama. The women painted pictures pertaining to the themes of fertility, celebration of nature and gods. It is believed that this tradition continued and murals were drawn on clay walls of village homes.

In 1934, an eathquake led W.G. Archer and his team to visit Mithila to understand its impact for future reconstruction. The devastated villages provided him with numerous walls painted with Madhubani paintings. He was so amazed by the paintings that he published an article. This article attracted many towards this craft. In 1964, when a severe drought hit Mithila, the government of India recognised this art form and trained women in Mithila to take it forward by translating the same on paper, fabric and canvas.

Madhubani paintings are made on various themes ranging from nature to the stories of Hindu deities and were classified into five styles: Katchni, Bharni, Kohbar, Godna, Tantrik. Traditionally, Brahmin and Kayastha women made Madhubani paintings using twigs and natural colors. But today, women and even men from different sections of the society practice this craft using brushes and acrylic colors.



Cow dung is filtered and mixed with gond to prepare a slurry. A layer of this slurry is applied on handmade paper to provide strength and protect it from termites over a considerable period of time.


Once completely dry, a rough sketch is made using pencil.


Katchni style of Madhubani painting is used to outline the designs with black paint. Bharni style is used to fill in the colors.