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Art Terms

Mithila Painting

The Evolution of Folk Art: From Walls to Paper

Mithila is a region in the north of Bihar state in northeast India and southeastern Nepal. On auspicious days for festivals or ceremonies, it is the tradition that women draw onto the floors and walls of their houses geometric designs incorporating the sun, moon, deities and animals from Indian folklore, as a devotional offering for peace or a good harvest. The patterns and methods have been passed down from mother to daughter over 3,000 years, and has attracted attention as an example of traditional folk art. The Indian government, as part of its cultural policy, has identified it as a possible source of income to help a region severely affected by natural disasters, which encouraged the women to sell their works on paper.

Bauwa Devi "Krishna and Cow" 1996-97 ink and pigment on paraconcrete wall

Jamna Devi "Kashua" 1989 ink and pigment on paraconcrete wall

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