Madhubani originated in the Mithila region in Bihar around 2500 years ago. This form of painting, also known as Mithila art, has been in practice in and around Bihar & Nepal. Interestingly, this art form was discovered by the modern world only in 1934. Mithila is a farming region in the state of Bihar and quite rich in natural vegetation. The literal meaning of Madhubani is ‘Honey from forests’ which indicates its roots to the rural culture. Traditionally this art form is practised by the women of the villages. It is done using twigs, brushes, nib pens, fingers and matchsticks, using natural dyes and pigments. For example- turmeric for yellow, indigo for blue, red from sandalwood and rice paste for outer boundary of the drawings. During any festival or occasion, women would paint the walls of the houses and huts with these paintings. It started as a ‘kohbar’ which is the room where a newly wedded couple spends their first four days, the walls of the room are painted with symbolism of prayer and meditation for well being of the future offspring of the couple. It is something which is practised even today in rural Bihar.

In the modern times, Madhubani as an art form is now designed on pieces of clothing and handmade papier-mache’ products.  These paintings over the time have tried to showcase the wildlife, vegetation as well as emotions such as love, valor, fertility and prosperity using geometrical patterns. Through these paintings, awareness on various gender issues, education and the need to protect the forests is also getting promoted. Women are increasingly using this painting as a medium to voice their issues. Now this art form is also getting displayed on bags, coasters, crockery items, files/folders etc.

Ranti and Jitwarpur villages nearby Madhubani town in Mithila region is a place where the local women are actively engaged in practising this art form. A few of them have also won awards and are internationally recognized for their contribution to the art form. ClayRoot through EcoKriti is committed to making an impact and promote the art form by reaching out to the local artisans in these villages.