Mythical Madhubani Paintings

Madhubani, which means Forest of Honey, (madhu means honey; bans means forest or woods) is a small village in Bihar that is popular for their Madhubani paintings. It is a traditional style of painting created in the Mithila region of Bihar state, India. Madhubani painting is famous for bright and rich style of folk painting.

In ancient times women drew most of the Madhubani paintings,which stand as an enduring testament to their creativity and artistic expression. Like other folklore around the globe, there is a myth in the folklore of Mithila too. The paintings depict mythical stories of the origin of the earth, and of the existence of supernaturals like apsaras and gandharvas. In those days women of the Mithila region believed that the paintings of the gods and goddesses will bring divine power to their families and make them closer to the gods and goddesses.

The Madhubani paintings started in the ancient kingdom of Janak of Mithila who ordered to paint all homes during the wedding of his daughter Sita to Prince Ram of Ayodha. From that day onward the wall paintings have been created during ceremonies and rituals. In modern days, the paintings are done in walls, papers, and cloths. Generally the themes of paintings reflect Hindu gods and goddesses, the sun, the moon, and religious plants like Tulasi.

The artists use broomsticks to paint, taking their colors from natural sources like flowers and leaves. First the drawing outline is traced onto tracing paper and it then is copied into the cloth or paper from the tracing paper. The outline is finally filled with colors, usually that of a warm color scheme-bright reds, oranges, and yellows, and occasionally, greens. The designs tend to be infinitely intricate, with little scenes, almost visual vignettes, combining together to form a cohesive, large mural. They also can be rough forms of tessellations, that have an almost MC Escher-like feel. They tend to look like ink drawings, with myriad ink colors used to draw the outlines of the picture and fill in the colors solidly or, more interestingly, with a form of crosshatching. Madhubani paintings, as can be seen, are an intriguing form of art, tinged with brilliant technique and creativity.

Interesting Triva
Women in villages around Madhubani who started the Madhubani painting for centuries was not recognized as a form of art until 1966. The women painters lived in a closed society and did not want to share or showcase their talent. Eventually the drought in 1966-1968 created a severe economic crisis and forced women to commercialize their paintings. The All India Handicrafts Board encouraged the women artists to create their paintings on hand-made paper to export all over the world. Thus the centuries-old tradition of wall paintings emerged from rural India to the entire world.


I love to read and write about various aspects of India, people, culture, history, tradition, food, etc. My goal for this web site is to help westerns understand India that are not generally available in other web sites.


  1. Good info about old culture, I never been to India, hopefully one day I can visit and explore the ancient culture and history.

  2. Love the Madhubani Paintings, I didn’t know it was that old culture, people has been doing for a long time.

  3. thanks to share such beautiful informative article.
    Kantilal Doobal tourist guide, at BHUJ KUTCH

  4. The Photo of Music player desplayed above is of Kutch

  5. Plz let us how to make this Madhubani painting’s inks at home. I like to learn this style of traditional art.


    Ajay Rajankar

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