There was a time when Mithila was a powerful kingdom in Northern India. Aftre all, Janakpur, the capital of the region, is the birthplace of Sita, the wife of Rama, one of the main hindu gods. For 3.000 years, hindu women of the region ( now one part is in Nepal, another in India and is called Madhubani) have maintained an unbroken tradition of painting motifs ( animals, people, life style,…) on the walls of their houses. These colourful images can be considered as fertility charms, meditation aids or a form of storytelling.
Women of all castes create these temporary decorations during the autumn festival of Tihaar ( Diwali in India). Many paint peacocks, pregnant elephants,…to attract the visit of Lakhshmi, the goddess of wealth. Indeed, this art is linked to hindu mythology and religious functions, particularly marriages. Then it is devoted to hindu female deities like Durga, Kali or Gauri. Or even Krishna, the god of love. However, the themes vary from caste to caste.
Since some years, paintings on paper, which traditionally play only a minor part in the culture, have grown to become the most celebrated form of Mithila art.