Bhopal: Ramayana, Raasleela In Madhubani Art Form Priced In Lakhs

Bhopal: Ramayana, Raasleela In Madhubani Art Form Priced In Lakhs

From housewives’ hobby to big biz; entire villages making Madhubani paintings in Bihar

Staff ReporterUpdated: Sunday, October 22, 2023, 07:36 AM IST
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Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh): A 9 feet 10 inches by 42 inches work, based on Raasleela, priced at Rs 3.5 lakh, and a 9.5 feet by 4.5 feet painting, titled ‘Ramayana’, worth Rs 1.5 lakh, are among the Madhubani paintings on display at the Bihar Connect 2023 exhibition, currently underway at Bhopal Haat in the city.

The ‘Ramayana’, depicting various episodes from the tale of Rama, is on display at the stall of Ajay Kumar Jha from Pali village in the Madhubani district of Bihar. The painting has been made by Ajay’s aunt Indra Devi. “More than a quarter of the residents of my village make paintings,” he says, explaining that Madhubani paintings are of four kinds - Godna, Mythological, Line and Tantrik.

The Tantric paintings are made by artists who know about Tantra. Ajay has brought with him a Tantric painting made by his sister, Poonam Devi, which depicts the 10 avatars of Kali, 10 avatars of Vishnu and 10 Tanrtic Yantras. The 22 inch by 20 inch painting took his sister almost a week to complete.

Bhogendra Paswan, who has brought the Raasleela painting, says that it is among the 4,000 works he has brought with him. “However, the publicity is so poor and no one is coming here. I haven’t been able to sell a single piece for the past three days,” he says.

Rajeev Kumar Jha belongs to the seventh generation of Madhubani painters in his family. “There is a great demand for these paintings,” says Jha, who is a BA (Hons) in English. Almost all the 6,000 residents of his village named Jitwarpur make Madhubani paintings, says Jha, three members of whose family are Padma Shri award winners.

“My great grandmother, my grandmother and my aunt, all are Padma Shri winners,” he says. In fact, his village has quite a few Padma Shris.

He says that there were many forms of the paintings. The ‘kohbar’ paintings were made on the walls of the room where the bride and groom consummated their marriage. He says the Madhubani paintings were originally made on walls. “Then, they started being made on canvas and now they are made on sarees and dress material,” he says. They are also made on recycled paper, which has 60 per cent cotton content.

According to Rajeev, whose grandmother has visited Germany, France, Japan and many other countries, the Madhubani art has the highest number of patrons in Japan. The paintings are made using natural colours made from fruits, leaves and flowers.

“Originally, the Madhubani paintings were made by women in their leisure hours. But they are big business,” says Rajeev, adding that the paintings are used mainly as wall hangings for decoration. The exhibition will remain open for visitors till October 22 from 11am-10pm.

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