DSA Spotlight 1 – “Madhubani Painting”

DSA has chosen Madhubani OR Mithila Painting style as the inaugural article in this series of articles on the ‘Indian Folk Painting Styles’.

DesseinAllStudio Hand painted Tote


Madhubani OR Mithila art form acquired its name from the kingdom of Mithila where it originated around the seventh century A.D. At that time, the region was a vast plane located primarily in what is now eastern India as well as in southern Nepal. However, the cultural center and capital of the region was in what is now the city of Janakpur, Nepal only 20 kilometers from the Indian border. Janakpur is of course the home of Janakpur painting while the town of Madubani, India is home of paintings of the same name. Mithila art consists of both kinds of paintings of which Madubani are more common.

The tradition of wall paintings as well as surface paintings for beautification of dwellings and ritual purposes in Mithila is believed to have survived from the epic period. These decorations are mythological murals, added with deities of Hindu pantheon, besides regional flora and fauna. The women artists, according to the old age tradition, are the sole custodians who practice this folk painting passing down for generations from mother to her daughter.

In Mithila, painting is normally done by women folk in three forms:

  • painting on floor,
  • painting on wall and
  • painting on movable objects.
  1. Aripan, under the first category, is made on the floor with the paste of arva (crude) rice. This rice paste is called pithar in the local language. Apart from the floor it is also made on banana leaves and wooden seats, an aripan is made with dry rice powder in white, yellow and red colours. Astadala, sarvatobhadra, dasapata and swastika are its main varieties.
  2. Wall paintings are multicolored. Three to four colors are usually used to depict the wall paintings. Motives:  nayana-jogini, carrier of fish, curd, jackfruit, trees of fruits such as mango and pomegranate and birds like peacock. Attractive floral motifs adorn the wall on three sides of the entrance.
  3. Paintings on movable objects include those on clay models of pots, bamboo structure, mat and fan.  Motives:  elephants, birds, sikki.

Coloring materials

black – soot.

yellow -pollen / turmuric

red – clay / Madder

Indian red (sindoor) – iron oxide

blue – indigo

Mithila (Madhubani) Art as a communication Technology

Although Mithila art did not directly lead ancient India to a conventional sense of literacy nor to formal education of the masses, it did give a voice to the voiceless. As a communication technology, it provided something for those artists that was and remains a critical element of their society: a heightened consciousness.

Long before there were computers in most of our homes, there was Mithila Art in homes of what is now India and Nepal. Originally, this folk art form mainly consisted of lively murals painted on the walls of homes in rural villages. But it was much more than simple art for art’s sake. This was art that gave a voice to powerless rural women as a communication technology.

By Ryan Bartlett

Madhubani Wall Art

Madhubani Wall Art

Madhubani and Mithili painting style is also famous as Gond painting style which is named after its location on the bank of the Godavari river.

Herewith this article we are trying to give exclusive Indian folk art painting styles a spotlight. Hope you will find it helpful. Let us know how you like it and we are open for Q&A… So enjoy all …


Reference Links


Text Technologies Writers Blog

Mithila Paintings: Past Present & Future by Dr. Kailash K. Mishra

Crafts In India

Tribal Arts Of India

Madhubani Art Centre

Tribut to Indian Folk Painting Styles………


Hope you all must be having lots of fun with art & craft projects. The spring is at the corner and a great time is coming to go out and explore new art and meet the artists and learn new things.

Today’s quotes

Art is not a thing; it is a way.      – Elbert Hubbard

Art is the desire of a man to express himself, to record the reactions of his personality to the world he lives in.      – Amy Lowell

Dessein All since beginning has always been discussing and promoting Indian folk art. It started with Warli and Madhubani Painting styles. After a long break Dessein All is starting up a month to month series of articles on the Indian Folk Art Painting Styles. Indian art is a true representation of the Indian culture, Indian traditions and the Indian society. This is a tribute to the folk art and folk artists of India. The objective is to cover different types of Indian Painting styles, practiced throughout the Indian subcontinent, which use diverse processes. Through these series of articles we will be discussing each one style for the whole month. That will include different categories such as:

  • Region & History of painting style
  • Know the artists
  • Original process
  • Know the Materials
  • DIY – to encourage the art practice

So let’s get ready with us for an exciting ride to the exotic land of ‘Indian Folk Art’


Anagha for DSA


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Warli is the name of the largest tribe found on the northern outskirts of Mumbai, in Western India. They mostly live in Thane district of Maharashtra on Northern outskirts of Mumbai  and extend upto the Gujarat Border.
The word Warli is derived from warla, meaning “piece of land” or “field”.
There are no records of the exact origins of this art, its roots may be traced to as early as the 10th century AD. Warli is the vivid expression of daily and social events of the Warli tribe of Maharashtra, used by them to decorate the walls of village houses. This art was eventually discoverd in 70’s and became popular for its unique simplicity and fervor of life.
This art form is simple in comparison to the vibrant paintings of Madhubani.

The Warli Painting

Women are mainly engaged in the creation of these paintings. These paintings do not depict mythological characters or images of deities, but depict social life. Images of human beings and animals, along with scenes from daily life are created in a loose rhythmic pattern. The Warlis use extremely basic shape like circle, triangle and a square.  The paintings are traditionally done in the homes of the Warlis. Painted white on mud walls, they are pretty close to pre-historic cave paintings in execution and usually depict scenes of human figures engaged in activities like hunting, dancing, sowing and harvesting.

These themes are highly repetitive and symbolic. Many of the Warli paintings that represent Palghat, the marriage god, often include a horse used by the bride and groom. The painting is sacred and without it, the marriage cannot take place. These paintings also serve social and religious aspirations of the local people. It is believed that these paintings invoke powers of the Gods. In Warli paintings it is rare to see a straight line. A series of dots and dashes make one line. The artists have recently started to draw straight lines in their paintings.
Today, small paintings are done on cloth and paper but they look best on the walls or in the form of huge murals that bring out the vast and magical world of the Warlis.

The subject of these paintings are their day to day activities which they try to depict in art.  The slideshow of the art work presented is a dance that done in circular motion.I have found a youtube video of the same. Please enjoy the art work as well as the music and dance.

ommmmmmmmm to all the warli people.