Updated: Jul 15
Have you ever observed a child with crayons carefully coloring flowers and rainbows in a coloring book? The amount of joy and satisfaction it brings to the heart just by filling up colors inside the thick black outlines is just precious. The Madhubani style of Bharni is pretty similar to that.
"Bharni" is a Hindi word that means "to fill". This style is specifically known for the bright and vibrant colors. Outlines are made with deep black ink, and the enclosed areas are filled with bright yellow, blue, green, pink, red, orange, et cetera. The mesmerizing variety of colors and rich line work makes Bharni Paintings a vision to behold.
It is said that Bharni Paintings were mainly done by Brahmin and Kayasth upper-caste women. Sita Devi, an internationally recognized artist from Jitwanpur Village, was the pioneer in the development of the Bharni style of Madhubani paintings. After Sita Devi, Bauua Devi remarkably inherited and adopted her style.
Bharni paintings primarily portray sacred literature and Hindu mythology. The common subjects include Hindu Deities such as Kali, Vishnu, Durga, Shri Krishna, and other Gods and Goddesses.
It is a medium of storytelling in the form of picturization of epics such as Ramayana and Mahabharata. Birth of Sita, Ram-Sita wedding, tales from the lives of Radha- Krishna and Shiva- Parvati (who are also known as Yog-Yogini in Mithila paintings) are among the most profound and popular illustrations in the Bharni Style.
This exceptional style of Madhubani painting not only reflects the incredibility of fine arts, but also of storytelling, and this is what makes it different from other painting styles.
Author: Pratichi Rai
Editor: Rachita Biswas