Saturday, March 9, 2013

"Madhubani Must Be Learnt, Not Developed"

After a series of experimenting and trying to reflect modern themes within the Madhubani style, I suddenly felt that I am completely unsatisfied with the outlook. As we can see in my two previous non-Indian based Madhubani themes, there is something that doesn't "feel" Madhubani at all. That really made me research online and I googled "books on Madhubani" in order to learn at least a little bit more about Madhubani. There I found an old edition of "Madhubani Painting" by Upendra Thakur. I was able to view about half of the book and it didn't provide me with a lot of insight but I was able to learn one major truth - "Madhubani style must be learnt, not developed".

                                           



"Madhubani Painting" by Upendra Thakur - YOU CAN READ THE BOOK FREE ONLINE HERE

From generation to generation this home art has been passed together with its style and intricacies. Apparently each household practices somewhat different fashion of the same Madhubani style. Upendra Thakur writes in his book that women start learning Madhubani in their childhood. In the beginning they act as assistants, helping to prepare paint and brushes, holding the bowl with paint when the elder is painting. By the age of 18 (or before marriage), the girls memorize the main designs and styles. They might be acting as assistants until they reach the middle age, then they will be regarded as the style experts and will be allowed to perform Madhubani independently. Even then not all women can draw Madhubani and the level of expertise differ. Within the art experimenting and inventing is not expected, all that is expected is the following  of tradition and the certain style. 

A Women's Day greeting card to my mother-in-law, "copied" from  the painting of Baua Devi  called "Two Girlfriends" (search Google to see the original) 
                            
As a Madhubani learner that sits at home and has no possibility to visit Bihar or find a teacher, I have to find the right way to learn Madhubani. I know that my Madhubani will never be real Madhubani because I am not a real Bihari. However without being able to control the wish to be able  to experience what it would feel like to paint in Madhubani style, I learn by copying. As someone that has been in art school and knows how bad it is to be unoriginal and a "copycat" it is hard to turn to copying other people's works. However I try to justify myself doing so because 'I need to learn'. Like the small girls copy their mothers and grandmothers, that's what a student should also do. Maybe when we acquire all the detail and the spirit of Madhubani, then like the Madhubani artist Baua Devi we can start experimenting.

The right inside of the card
                                      

1 comments:

Arpana Jha said...

Beautifully written...

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