From the Jacket:
The present work contains a brief study of the various facets of Mithila folk-arts and paintings, which are unique in character having few parallels. Of late there has been great talk about this painting, the central inspiration of which revolves round popular religious themes and natural surroundings. They reflect the self-control and serenity of Maithila life and the definite theocratic and aristocratic organizations of Mithila aimed at giving clear and edifying expression to certain intuitions, which formed part of their religion. The different forms of floor-drawings (Aripana) and wall-paintings (bhitti-citra) provide information on customs and costumes and rituals and religion which otherwise may remain unnoticed.
The volume further explains in detail the religious and spiritual significance of the folk-arts and paintings of Mithila by means of copious references to Sanskrit texts, both sacred and secular. The paintings, as they are, constitute not merely a heap of drawings but a visible symbol of aspirations of pious ladies, and the throbbings of their hearts in religious fervour. A work of inestimable interest both for the specialist and for the connoisseur interested in the study of Indian painting, this comprehensive and authoritative volume on Madhubani painting and other folk-arts of Mithila will prove of immense help to students of Indian culture.
About the Author:
Dr. Upendra Thakur began his career as a College teacher in 1956 and is now working as University Professor and Head of the Department of Ancient Indian and Asian Studies at the University of Magadh, Bodh-Gaya (Bihar). He received higher education at the University of Calcutta and wrote his D.Phil. thesis there. He also served as Research Fellow in the Mithila Institute of Post-Graduate Studies and Research in Sanskrit Learning, Darbhanga, for two years and as Lecturer in the Universities of Gorakhpur and Patna for more than seven years. In 1969 he visited Yugoslavia under the Indo-Yugoslav Cultural Exchange Programme of the Government of India to deliver a series of lectures on different aspects of Indian history and culture at the University of Zagreb and other Universities of Yugoslavia. He also visited Moscow, Rome, London, Germany and other countries of Europe.
Dr. Thakur was invited to deliver a series of lectures on 'Cultural contacts between India and Thailand' at the Mahachulalongkorn Royal University at the Bangkok which he visited in October-November, 1972. He also visited Laos and other countries of South-East Asia in the course of his lecture-tour. He again visited Thailand to attend the seventh session of the International Conference of Historians of Asia in Bangkok in August 1977 as an invitee scholar. He also participated in the International Conference on Indian Ocean Studies, held in Perth, Western Australia from 15 August to 22 August, 1979 as an invitee scholar. He also participated in World Religionists-Ethics Congress in Tokyo-Kyoto from June 23-27, 1981 and attended the fourth Conference of the International Buddhist Association in the University of Wisdonsin, Madison (USA) from August 7-9, 1981 as delegate from the Magadh University, Bodh Gaya.
Dr. Thakur has published several books and more than sixty-five research papers including History of Mithila; History of Suicide in India; Studies in Jainism and Buddhism in Mithila; The Hunas in India; Mints and Minting in India; Some Aspects of Ancient Indian History and Culture; Homicide in India; Corruption in Ancient India; The Heritage of India (L. N. Mishra Com. Vol: edited) India and Laos (edited) and On Kartikeya, besides two books in Hindi and one in Maithili.
Dr. Thakur is also associated with many learned bodies in India and abroad. He is Chief Editor of the Journal of the Bihar Research Society and also Vice-Chairman of the Bihar Research Society, Patna; General-Secretary of the Numismatic Society of India; President of Section IV (Countries other than India) of the Indian History Congress for the year 1978 and Member, Explorers Club, New York, since 1979. He also worked as Panel Chairman of the Seminars organized on the occasion of the Third, Fourth, Fifth and Sixth International Buddhist Conferences sponsored by the International Buddhist Brotherhood Association Tokyo-Bodhgaya, in 1977, 1978, 1979 and 1980 respectively. He also chaired a Panel in the International Conference of the Historians of Asia held in Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) in 1980. He was awarded the Akbar Silver Medal for 1979 by the Numismatic Society of India for his outstanding contributions to numismatic studies.
The following pages are intended to throw light on some of the obscure problems connected with the origin and development of Madhubani painting and the various folk-arts of Mithila. Madhubani painting while aspiring towards the high ideals of life covered a larger field. Apart from its delineation of religious ideas, it reflects the beliefs and customs of the common people, thus producing an artistic folklore of unusual interest. As in the case of Rajput painting, its chief aim was to present the innumerably graphic aspects of religion to the people, literally for household use. This resulted in a miniature Mithila school, what is now popularly known as Madhubani painting, which is an outstanding feature of the pictorial art of India. Although this volume cannot be regarded as an exhaustive study, nonetheless it presents for the first time an interesting outline which researchers in the field can make use of with great profit.
In the preparation of this volume, I have received valuable help and suggestions from Dr. B.N. Sharma, Keeper, National Museum, New Delhi. It is a matter of deep sorrow for me’ that Dr. B.N. Sharma could not see the publication of this work due to his sudden, untimely death in February 1981. I have lost in him a very sincere and valued friend and adviser, and words are too poor to express my gratitude to that great soul the like of whom I shall perhaps never see again.
Dr. Md. Aquique (my former student and now colleague in the Department) and Dr. Vijay Kumar Thakur, Patna University deserve my thanks for extending unstinted cooperation in the course of the writing of this monograph. My sincere thanks are due to Dr. S.K. Maity, late Sri Upendra Maharathi, the famous artist, Prof. Radha Krishna Choudhary and his wife Smt. Shanti Devi, Dr. Yugal Kishore Mishra (my former student and now colleague), Sri Ram Swarup Singh, my student and U.G.C. Junior Research Fellow in the Department (for preparing Index), and Sri Awadh Kishore Singh (my student) and Dr. Kamalesh Datta Pandey of Ghaziabad College, Ghaziabad, for having supplied and prepared some of the valuable drawings and photographs, both in colour and black-and-white. I have to acknowledge my debt to my wife, Smt. Rama Thakur, who has helped me in the collection of the aripana photographs which constitute the forte of Maithila women. Finally, I must thank Sri Shakti Malik, Proprietor, Abhinav Publications, New Delhi, who has as usual extended unfailing cooperation in publishing this volume.
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