Tribal Arts Tour of India - Sanjhi, Madhubani

Tribal Arts Tour of India - Sanjhi, Madhubani

Hello readers. Don't you feel that time flies? I can't believe that we are already in June.. 6 months to go. 

This month I am bringing you 2 art forms that have fascinating stories about its origin dating back to India’s two epics i.e. Ramayana & Mahabharata. As I had mentioned in my previous article, folk arts give us an interesting sneak peek into our history and culture. So lets begin the journey.
State - Uttar Pradesh
Folk art- Sanjhi 
Situated at - Mathura & Vrindavan in Uttar Pradesh
Material used - Customised scissors, paper, natural colours, flowers, leaves, stones

The word Sanjhi is derived from the word “Sanjh” meaning dusk. There are many interesting stories about the origin of Sanjhi art. 

Once a group of young girls saw a sanyasi (hermit) who was meditating. They started mocking him by throwing fresh cow-dung on him. The angry sanyasi was about to curse these girls, when suddenly, a gorgeous girl appeared from nowhere and calmed him down and again disappeared. Calm sanyasi forgave the girls, advising them to draw the goddess with fresh cow-dung every year during pitru-paksha. And so was born the mystic art of Sanjhi. 

Another folklore tells us that the origins of this art form lie with Radhe, who made Sanjhi rangolis to woo Krishna. The other gopis soon followed suit, also making intricate designs to impress Krishna.

One more story goes that when Indraprastha was created, artisans from all over were invited to demonstrate their craft, among which lies sanjhi. The Kauravas came to see the new city, and while looking around, Duryodhan fell into a pool of water. It is said that a sanjhi design was then seen floating on the surface above him. 
Sanjhi painting of Cows by Ashutosh Verma from Memeraki
State - Bihar 
Folk art - Madhubani 
Situated at - Madhubani district in Bihar & Mithila region in India and Nepal
Material used - various tools (fingers, twigs, brushes, nib-pens, and matchsticks), natural dyes and pigments, paper, cloth etc
Madhubani painting

Madhubani has many interesting stories about its origin, discovery, impact and popularity. 

How did it originate?
When lord Ram married Sita, King Janaka asked an artist to capture his daughter’s wedding and so was born the Madhubani style of painting. 

How was the art form discovered?
The art was discovered in 1934 when a massive earthquake hit Bihar. The British Colonial officer of Madhubani district, William G. Archer chanced upon these paintings in the interior walls of the homes while he was examining the damage caused by the quake.

How did it save the environment?
In 2012, Shashthi Nath Jha, who runs the Gram Vikas Parishad, an NGO, started the initiative of decorating trees with Madhubani painting to protect trees that were being cut down in the name of development. This proved to be an effective way since not a single tree was cut and the villagers became aware of climate change and global warming. The main reason that stopped trees being cut was they were adorned with forms of gods which instilled reverence.

How did it become famous?
 In 1960’s when drought hit Bihar, the All India Handicrafts Board encouraged upper caste women in villages around Madhubani town to make the ritualistic paintings on paper to generate income. Slowly the style of painting found its way onto many articles from greeting cards to salwar kameez materials.

Credit - Wikipedia,, outlook traveller, craftsvilla
Start your own tribal art collection with pieces here

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