Madhubani Paintings have been a reflection of the relationship between mankind and biodiversity for ages. While we talk about how special it is of this art form to showcase this special connection of humans with nature, the fascination lies in the fact that every resource required to curate this art is natural and environment friendly.
Since this art form originated as a hobby for women, the materials required for this are easily accessible and available. Women used to prepare colors from things that were present around them, like leaves, barks, flowers, seeds, and spices.
As a matter of fact, the Madhubani artists never pluck flowers, instead, they pick up the flowers that have fallen to the ground.
Isn’t that beautiful? This is one of the things that makes this art form very special.
On that note, let us dive deep into this and know more about the raw materials used by Madhubani artists.
The canvas is painted with a special layer with cow dung as the main component. Traditionally, cow dung is mixed with Acacia glue (gum obtained from Babool tree) and clay, which is then applied to the walls for murals. This gives a special shine to the walls creating an excellent canvas.
Nowadays, the pale brown cow dung wash is also applied with a cotton cloth on the hand-made paper canvas. Cow dung also serves as an excellent insect repellent.
The lighter shades of black are obtained by boiling hibiscus flowers with few drops of lemon juice. Sesamum seeds and Finger Millet seeds are crushed and mixed together for black color, and for deep black color, roasted Barley seeds are mixed with cow dung.
Boiling hibiscus - https://images.app.goo.gl/goapmRsqkj325tSx6
Polo berries, dried Palash flowers, Beetroot, Henna leaves, Mustard, and Vermillion seeds are used for red and other shades of red.
Dried Palash flowers- https://images.app.goo.gl/xjQmMEgaTQtQLRHY7
For brown color, barks of Kachnar and Katahar trees are used. Brownish pink is extracted from Litchi leaves.
The bark of kachnar tree- https://images.app.goo.gl/DxiBiQ79c3bTymFQ7
It is interesting to note that animals also act as a medium of color extraction. ‘Googli’ is a one-of-a-kind color preparation where cows are fed only Mango leaves for two to three days which results in the production of deep yellow urine which yields a special yellow color. Apart from this, Kataiya (Mexican poppy) flowers and Sunflowers are also used to obtain yellow color.
Mexican poppy- https://images.app.goo.gl/RHeV7qPVH9qfpqJn8
The deep pink color is obtained when the Kusum flower is boiled in gum along with Poro seeds.
Kusum flower- https://images.app.goo.gl/kVUd6vu1pfWimgSt7
The green color is provided using BHAANG (https://images.app.goo.gl/RfS7HFJRtyvArFhN8IP)
For maroon color, the bark of Babul and Latum are boiled together.
Babool tree bark- https://images.app.goo.gl/BbvWuRGkWkRwZm3eA
An aqueous paste of powdered rice grains is used as white color which is called ‘Pithar’.
Rice paste- https://images.app.goo.gl/sQMrYs8bMdbSz8tU6
The golden color is extracted from the barks and inner fruit shell of the Darin tree.
Durian Fruit: https://images.app.goo.gl/aAMkSzU7k9Gh4MEy8
Aparajita flower serves as a source of blue color and green color is extracted from Cannabis and Sem leaves.
Aparajita flower: https://images.app.goo.gl/3FDyhCQdQSVjHnvg9
Furthermore, to prevent the colors from outflowing or leaking, they are mixed with Acacia (Babool) gum. For brush, cotton cloth is wrapped over matchsticks and bamboo pens.
Babool Gum: https://images.app.goo.gl/G2h6KbxrHmoZvFAV9
All these plants grow without any external efforts and exist naturally in their habitat. The additional cultivation of these plants has the potential to be a part of alternative farming, which would also popularize the usage of natural dyes.
The dyes are extracted manually from hand-picked raw materials- which adds to the authenticity and earthly essence of this art form.
In an era where climate change fails to bother the ignorant men in power and environmental concerns are being propagated through all sorts of media - Madhubani Art has been encapsulating the sanctity of nature and environment preservation since time immemorial.
So that was it about the raw materials.
We hope we were able to inspire you to create art and at the same time make you realize how inseparable we are from nature and how inseparable nature is from our art!