Around the region of Madhubani (a small district in Bihar), this anitque painting form has been practiced over thousands of years. Traditionally done on freshly plastered mud walls and floor of huts, with the help of natural colors made up of tree leaves, flowers and other naturally available commodities. Tulsidas talked about mithila paintings in his epic Ramacharitamanas during the wedding scene of Lord Ram and Sita (also known as Maithili, being the daughter of Mithila Naresh).
These paintings are basically painted by women of all classes and castes of mithila. In the old times since they were not free to go outside their houses, it was their source of expression. These paintings were the medium for the women to highlight their feelings. Through their creativity they voiced their desires, hopes, dreams and expectations. Madhubani paintings imparted them the freedom of thoughts -a right they never had elsewhere. When any of the ladies painted the walls or floor, other ladies sang to help and suppport her, so this cuture conatins many forms of creativity (painting,writing,singing etc). However, in modern times, women used this skill to fulfill their financial needs since they couldnt go out for labour or any other work. This art acted as a messenger of God for many families and helped them to get through thier bad times.
Generations over generation ,this art has been carried forward, although the content and style has remained same but its form has changed. Modern transations of the wall paintings on cloth and canvas can be seen all around these days (mainly due to commercial purposes). Now a days these are used as motifs for cards and dress materials. Change is quite visible in these peices of work, cultural change and change in the tastes of viewers has made the painters change a bit. Bawa Devi, Sarita Devi, Sita Devi, Ganga Devi, Padhmashri Mahasundari Devi etc have brought Madhubani paintings to a pedestrain ,to such a height that now its well known and well available in almost all parts of India.
Although the recent trends of consumersim and seliing attitude of the atrists have made this art a salve of rich people and although it has surrendered the entire traditional creativity before the buyers, yet the essence of a whole culture can be smelt from each and every piece of this art.
A whole civilization run in front of the viewers ,an entire ocean of emotions flow out of these works. These paintings are not just mere paintings ,rather,they are an anthology of a whole culture.