Tuesday, February 18th, 2020

Surajkund Crafts Mela-An Embodiment of Art


It is indeed well said that beauty without depth is a mere decoration and this maxim has been epitomized in the traditional art of Madhubani paintings. This intricately designed work from the district of Madhubani in the state of Bihar has achieved international recognition. The 24th Surajkund Crafts Mela displayed an impressive array of Madhubani paintings and was a hot favourite among visitors especially foreigners who were astounded to see such skillfully designed paintings. The use of loud and primary colours in these paintings offered a dazzling contrast with the rustic and the rural ambience of the Mela.

Chandra Bushan who hailed from Madhubani district of Bihar expressed that visiting the Surajkund Crafts Mela had always been an experience in itself. He added that the visitors here understood the intricacies of art and appreciated their work as well. He made an exclusive use of khadi paper and natural colours to accentuate his art. No wonder his paintings fetched him a National and a State award. He has been a Madhubani artist for the past 20 years and hoped that his children will carry their family legacy forward.

Traditionally, Madhubani paintings were not just pretty drawings but expression of folk legends.  As the literal meaning suggests, `madhu' (honey) and `ban' (forest), most of the paintings depicted the sweet feeling of exaltation which these amiable folk experience in their heart  while conceiving the image which are generally inspired from the Vedas, Puranas, Upnashids, Ramayana and Mahabharata, the universe and its creations. In the early 50's, these murals ornamented the mud layered walls of the huts of the villagers but later they started to do these murals on paper.  As the new line-work paintings came in the market, it was almost a revolution.  The demand shot up and the Maithila region consisting of Champaran, Shaharsa, Muzaffarpur, Vaishali and Darbhanga became quite famous for their art but Madhubani remained the heartland of the art.

The commercial success of Madhubani gave way to diversified mediums and the paintings, as a result, were seen on greeting cards, dress materials, sunmica and handmade paper among others. No matter how much of it was innovated, the basic features remained the same.  The figures were recognizable by a face in profile while the rest of the body faced the front.  The face always had a large eye and a bumpy nose which came out straight from the forehead and which bore the hallmark of any Madhubani painting. The borders were highly decorated either geometrically or with ornate floral patterns. And this was what which made the traditional art of Madhubani work unique.

Work hut number 65 impressively displayed a huge variety of Madhubani paintings. Ambica Devi has been making these paintings since she was 14 years old and commented that it was their family tradition to be a Madhubani artist. She also added that some of the paintings took upto months together while the others were completed in some days. She expressed her gratitude to the Surajkund Mela Authorities for giving her this platform to market her art. She expressed that she would love to come every year and become a part of this mega event.

Surajkund Crafts Mela has pioneered in converging arts and crafts from all over India and abroad. The international stage set for these craftspersons has broadened their horizon where they can learn other arts and crafts and further innovate their respective arts. The art of Madhubani paintings offered a great scope for various other artists to learn from. Their intricacies and complex designs were a rare form of art which were matchless in its own way.



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