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Madhubani Art - Bihar

Far from the cities and towns, and well away from the route of the "hippies" lie a few tiny villages in Laloo`s forbidden land. Here, a folk tradition remains alive. Madhubani is a large farming town in Bihar. According to ancient texts the region called Mithila was so rich in vegetation that it became known as the "Forest of Honey". Mithila was highly celebrated. So much so that Rama, the handsome prince of a neighbouring kingdom and incarnation of the god Vishnu came Mithila to marry princess Sita.

Madhubani Art

Khobar, the word used for the marriage proposal picture also means the room where the bride and groom will spend their first four nights together chastely. The Khobar`s basic design and composition is heavily charged with tantric symbolism. Traditionally the young woman learns to draw from the women folk. Because paper is rare, they use pages torn from a notebook and glued together onto a piece of cloth. Chimney soot is then mixed with cattle urine or water, or goat`s milk and used as paint. The brushes are made from a piece of straw or a few threads pulled from the hem of her sari.

Each painting is a prayer and an accompaniment to meditation; therefore the artist ought not work unless she is in a yogic state.

Madhubani Art

A woman`s painting begins with her realising the spiritual image of a god in deep prayer, and her finished product will therefore correspond to her inner attitude. In addition to the religious orientated style of the Kayasthas, there is a further style of murals-the tattoos. The Banjaras, (nomads), of Bihar decorate themselves with tattoos. This arose from the medieval ages when the Muslims invaded India and attacked the beautiful girls of Bihar. In order to protect the girls from the invaders they were tattooed so that the Muslims would not lay their hands on them.

Traditionally the girls learn to draw and paint at a very early age, so that they can present their work to their future husbands. Like their forebears, modern Mythili women cover the walls of their small houses with murals and use whatever surface is available to draw the complicated symbols and designs mostly depicting scenes from Ramayan and Mahabharat.

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