Mother nature and Madhubani

Updated: Jul 15

Madhubani painting


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.

Raw materials

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.

Sesamum seeds and Finger Millet seeds

Boiling hibiscus -

Polo berries, dried Palash flowers, Beetroot, Henna leaves, Mustard, and Vermillion seeds are used for red and other shades of red.

Polo berries, dried Palash flowers

Dried Palash flowers-

For brown color, barks of Kachnar and Katahar trees are used. Brownish pink is extracted from Litchi leaves.

barks of Kachnar and Katahar trees

The bark of kachnar tree-

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.

Kataiya (Mexican poppy) flowers and Sunflowers

Mexican poppy-

The deep pink color is obtained when the Kusum flower is boiled in gum along with Poro seeds.

Kusum flower

Kusum flower-