pats (Madhubani Painting)

About this object

History of use

These paintings were executed as part of Sanskara rites and Vrata observances which are still obligatory for women in some households of North Bihar. Jayakar (69:39) states that the ancient purpose of these drawings must have been propitiatory, that is, as symbols to induce fertility, to awaken energy (shakti), to propitiate the earth, and to solicit protection from malignant forces, disease, and sorcery. Today, these paintings are also important for the visible education they provide of the great epics (Ramayana, Mahabharata) and for their rich religious vocabulary.
Mahubani paintings have recently become a popular folk art industry in India. Paper and paint are now available to women who formerly painted only walls and floors in their own homes. Paintings are commissioned and marketed in an organized way by groups such as the All India Handicrafts Board and Bihar State Handicrafts Board. They are sold in central government and state emporiums and have been exported.

Narrative

Mahubani paintings have recently become popular folk art industry in India. Paper and paint is now available to women who formerly painted only homes. Paintings are commissioned and marketed in an organized way by groups such as the All India Handicrafts Board and Bihar State Handicrafts Board. They are sold in central government and state emporiums and have been exported (collector's notes, 1977).

Iconographic meaning

Represents Kali, consort of Shiva holding a kathi (knife) and bowl for blood of her victims. Wears skull necklace.

Physical description

Murti Kali painting on handcrafted paper. Multi-armed figure with protruding tongue is depicted, wearing yellow and blue clothing, and holding a head in the right hand. Stylized flowers fill in white background. Yellow border with repeating heads is outlined in black with diagonal lines. Dark blue outer border. Colours are pink, yellow, blue, purple, and black. Reverse side has writing, script, and stamp, in lower right corner.