Ah, I did fail to notice that it has been quite long, since I wrote something for my readers. Last two months were quite hectic and I was pretty occupied with hell lot of things both in personal and official life. Luckily, I have got some leisure time today to breath properly and smell the freshness of the breeze from the outside of my window after the downpour.
While assembling some of my stuffs in cupboard, I came across a conspicuous tea tray(shown in the picture), which I bought last month from a new e-commerce site http://www.imithila.com , which is a new start up by one of my college mate Ruchi Jha. The beautiful Mithila painting that is imbibed over the base of the tray was actually making it quite unique among the entire collection of paintings and decor that I have. The other two products like a painting and lady’s kurti, which I bought from the website also turned out to be a kind of wow experience for me and my wife.
Trust me!! It was really a kind of pleasant surprise to me initially, when I got to know about such an initiative for the first time. In general, we all have a dream to pursue a career, which directly or indirectly serves the society that we belong to, but only few of us get the right circumstances to do so. Being a guy from Mithila region of Bihar, I have grown up seeing Mithila paintings and the craftsmanship associated with it across the region which comprises of the places like Madhubani, Samastipur, Darbhanga(my hometown), etc., and I always wanted to see the art from my region reaching every possible door throughout the nation. So, when I saw Ruchi and her team giving an honest efforts to make an ancient popular art reachable to everyone, it really made me believe that still there are people out there,who take a chance to do something they strongly believe in.
It gives me an eternal satisfaction because the only thing people in this country knows about Bihar is either the pathetic social-political condition of the state to criticize or else to envy the extensive number of brain drained engineers, doctors and Public Service commissioned officers. People hardly knows about the very old and rich culture of Mithila(one part of Bihar’s historical identity), which has given its effective contribution in the field of art, literature and architecture to the Indian society. British officers were big admirer of Mithila painting during the colonial times. The massive earthquake of 1934 in Bihar had tumbled down the house walls, and the British colonial officer in Madhubani District, William G. Archer, inspecting the damage discovered the paintings on the newly exposed interior walls of homes. Archer – later to become the South Asia Curator at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum – was stunned by the beauty of the paintings and similarities to the work of modern Western artists like Klee, Miro, and Picasso. He brought the wall paintings to public attention through and article in the Indian art journal, Marg, somewhere in 1949.
Madhubani art(popularly known as Mithila painting) has five distinctive styles, namely, Bharni, Katchni, Tantrik, godna and gobar. In the 1960s Bharni, Kachni and Tantrik style were mainly done by Brahman and Kayashth women, who are upper caste women in India and Nepal. Their themes were mainly religious and they depicted Gods and Goddesses, flora and fauna in their paintings. People of lower castes includes aspects of their daily life and symbols , story of Raja Shailesh [ guard of village] and much more, in their paintings. But nowadays Madhubani art has become a globalised art form so there is no difference in the work of artists of the region on the basis of caste system . They are working in all five styles and the art received international and national attention.
There are some famous names associated with the Mithila painting like Jagdamba Devi, Sita Devi and Bharti Dayal, who are all the pioneers in the field and also the national awardees. I was going through one of the very popular artist Bharti Dayal’s website, and found that each one of her paintings was having the minimum cost of $2000. That shows the level of acceptance for Mithila painting at the world stage due to the kind of art and purity associated with it. But, buying her paintings seems beyond the capacity of a middle class family due to the expensiveness of it. So, in such a time an initiative like imithila.com provides a well deserved platform for the local artist from the Mithila region to earn a good livelihood. And it also provide a very good opportunity to all the art lovers to fulfill their desires to have that beautiful form of art and decor in a very affordable price. I have seen a variety of collection on the website. Be it a hand painted ethnic sarees, kurtis, stole, etc. or the home decors. Everything appears to be in budget and rightly priced. I urge my readers to take out sometime from their busy and hectic schedule to give a look to the website http://www.imithila.com, and appreciate the much needed step that should have actually been taken long back by the state government to promote the Mithila painting and the history behind the same. And, if by any chance you find my idea about that initiative true, then do purchase the piece of art as per you liking and budget. I bet it will satisfy your soul as you will see the value for money and the magnificence of the Madhubani art.
From: Nilesh Ranjan