Madhubani painting is a traditional painting style practiced on Canvas, Cloth, or Cow dung washed hand paper. It is also known as Mithila painting due to its origins in Mithila region of modern-day Nepal. This style of painting has been traditionally practiced by women of region, though men are also actively involved today taking forward the tradition. The Madhubani style of painting can be traced to the Madhubani district in Bihar, literally meaning Forest of Honey, (‘Madhu’-honey, ‘Ban’-forest or woods), where women spent a lot of time making these paintings on the walls of their homes.
These paintings are an ancient style of painting that originates 2500 years ago. Commonly depicted subjects in Madhubani paintings were mainly Hindu deities and were celebratory in nature. Tales of religious characters/Gods such as Ardhanarishvara (depicted as half male and half female which is believed to be a composite androgynous form of the Hindu God Shiva and his consort Parvati – a unison of supreme powers), Mythological characters (Ram, Sita, etc) were depicted in the paintings. In addition to this, Marriages, Festivals, Sun and Moon and many others were common subjects too.
Madhubani painting is characterized by line drawings filled in by bright colors and contrasts or patterns. Old Madhubani paintings were done using homemade natural mineral pigments and were done with sticks and fingers rather than pens or brushes. These paintings are popular because of the tribal motifs, geometrical figures and vibrant colors being the key elements.