Item Code: DC90
Madhubani Painting on Hand Made Paper treated with Cow DungArtist Dhirendra Jha
Dimensions 1.8 ft x 2.4 ft
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100% Made in India
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This highly simplified, yet as much colourfully rendered Madhubani painting, an excellent example of folk style and an index to the folk mind, represents one of the naughtiest acts of Lord Krishna, which he performed when he was a boy. It relates to his stealing away the garments of 'gopis' when they were bathing semi-nude in a pond near Vrindavana. Strangely this episode has been represented too widely in visual arts and folk and bardic traditions. In medieval Indian art artists of almost all schools including the late 19th and early 20th century calendar art have sought special delight in rendering this highly romantic aspect of 'Krishna-lila'.

This episode, though it is the part of the legend in Bhagavata Purana also and the ritual tradition has attributed to it an ethical dimension, is a sheer imaginative expansion of 'Krishna-lila' theme. It is said Varuna, the sea-god, had forbidden nude bath in rivers, ponds and other public places, but 'gopis' often resorted it. One day to teach them a lesson Krishna reached the bank of the pond where they were taking bath and before any one of them noticed him he took away their garments and spread them on the branches of nearby 'Kadamba' tree. He himself climbed the tree and hid there behind a branch.

After the 'gopis' had bathed, they looked for their garments but found them missing from where they had put them. The eyes of the astonished 'gopis' searched each and every corner of the bank but their garments were nowhere to be found. Suddenly their attention was drawn to the nearby Kadamba tree by the stirring its branches. When they looked up, they saw Krishna hiding there and their garments scattered all over the branches of the tree. They beseeched him to return them their clothes but Krishna would do so only when they came out of the pond saluting him with both hands folded. The reluctant 'gopis' did what Krishna asked them do for they could not remain in water for so long as Krishna could be tree ridden.

In folk visualisation of the theme the nudity has often been evaded, as here in this Madhubani painting, by this or that device. Rendered on a door-jam or on the wall of a house a legend or theme could not be allowed to be obscene or sensuous. The illiterate folk, mostly the women-folk, looked to legends and mythology for a moral of life or ethics of conduct. Hence, compelled by the immense popularity folk artists sometimes rendered such episodes also but evaded simultaneously their obscene parts. In this Madhubani masterpiece legend's sensuous aspect has been symbolised by gopis' tight costumes which conceal their bodies but not so much their sensuous appeal.

In typical Madhubani folk style the entire canvas has been so well packed by various symbols, designing patterns and motifs and elements of Krishna legends. The tree Krishna is riding has covered almost two-third of canvas. Its green leave, orange hued flowers and deep brown branches spread from ground to sky. Artist's fascination for colours is so strong that he has stripped with yellow and red even the simple trunk of the tree. Krishna is playing on his flute and are drawn to its melody cow, dog and peacock. Whatever small space was left empty he covered by a large flower. The pond has in its belt conch fish, frog and other aquatic creatures but no snake this time. Almost two inch broad border is alike decorated. Vertical right and left arms of the frame have elongated figures of 'gopis' with a huge row of sacred pots on their heads. The sacred symbol pot has been consecrated in the centre of upper and lower frame. There prostrate a 'gopi' figure on both sides, right and left, of the central pots.

This description by Prof. P.C. Jain and Dr Daljeet. Prof. Jain specializes on the aesthetics of ancient Indian literature. Dr Daljeet is the chief curator of the Visual Arts Gallery at the National Museum of India, New Delhi. They have both collaborated on numerous books on Indian art and culture.

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Of Related Interest:

Chir - Harana (The Stealing of the Garments of the Gopis) (Painting by Kailash Raj)

Vastraharan Lila (Miniature Painting On Paper)

Krishna Stealing Clothes (Orissa's Paata Painting Water Color on Patti)

Krishna stealing clothes (Paata Painting on Tussar Silk from Orissa)

Krishna Stealing Clothes (Scroll Painting) (Orissa's Paata Painting Water Color on Tussar Silk)

Krishna the Divine Lover in Indian Art (Article)

Colors of Tradition: Exploring the Artistry Behind Madhubani Paintings

Madhubani painting is also known as Mithila art as it is practiced in the Mithila region of India and Nepal. It has specifically originated from the Madhubani district of the state of Bihar. Traditionally, the women of this region created these paintings and in recent years, it has become a widely practiced art and has now become renowned throughout the world. This art expresses the creativity and culture of the people of Mithila and is passed from one generation to another. In this way, the heritage of Madhubani art has been preserved for many decades. The subjects of these paintings are usually religion, love, and fertility. Sometimes, social events like festivals, weddings, and royal court are also depicted in the paintings. The most commonly painted designs and themes are the forms of Hindu Gods and Goddesses such as Ganesha, Shiva, Saraswati, Lakshmi, Krishna, and Ram. The characteristic features of Madhubani paintings are their vibrant colors and eye-catching geometrical patterns. The empty spaces are filled with traditional motifs such as floral and foliate patterns, animals, birds, geometrical structures, and other designs. The local artists create these paintings using a variety of items such as matchsticks, twigs, brushes, pens, or even their own fingers. The paints are usually made with natural dyes and pigments.
As simple as it may seem, the making process of the world-famous Madhubani paintings is certainly not easy and requires lots of hard labor.
Traditional Madhubani paintings are done either on cloth, handmade paper, or canvas. Select the medium of painting as per your choice. If you have chosen cloth, attach it to cardboard to make a solid base. The making of the painting begins with making a double-lined border. This is a very important step because the border is filled with various geographical shapes and patterns or other motifs. The average width of the border is 1.5 - 2 cm. Now that the border is created, you will be left with a blank middle space. This is the main workspace. Start drawing your choice of figure, designs, and shapes. These must be relevant to the Madhubani painting themes.
When the key design has been made, the empty spaces in between are filled with some designs.
Now is the time to color the painting using vivid shades and hues. Colors in Madhubani are sourced from nature; Indigo is used to produce blue, flower juice produces red, turmeric gives yellow, leaves produce green, cow dung mixed soot gives black, and rice powder gives white.
To paint these colors, the artist uses a bamboo stick and wraps cotton around it. This acts as a traditional brush.
The entire painting is now painted using this special brush with natural vibrant colors. · However, in modern times, the common brush is used and instead of natural colors, artists prefer to use acrylic paints.
Since the entire painting is made with natural materials and colors, it appears simple yet enriching. Originally, this art was created on mud walls or soil grounds but when it evolved over many years, the people of Madhubani started to make it on fabric and paper. Today, this art has become globalized and is receiving worldwide attention and appreciation.
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