It is about a day long journey to the place,using almost all modes of travel! By the time you reach the village, dusk falls over the long stretches of greens everywhere and you can hear the jhingurs(night insects) in the still of the night and if it is summers you can see the fireflies too,lighting up the sky!
I normally start my day early when I go to villages like everyone else there, as after dusk you cannot work with no lights in the village. I had been mostly working from Madhubani earlier, but this time I went further down, about 20 kms to Jitwarpur which is believed to be the place from where it all originated. A small village with about 100 odd houses, each one having its own story of art.
My lead artist Lambodar Ji took me through a tour of the village and I had the privilege to visit some of the gems of this art. One of them, Mithilesh Jha who is also a national awardee tells me a very interesting story of how it all started…
You enter Mithilesh Ji’s house and you know you are just in the right place. Painted motifs of fish adorn the exteriors of the house, you walk in and the walls and curtains everything is a medium of expression there, full of art. We sat down for a chat and chai, and he begins to speak fondly of Sita Devi, his grandmother who was awarded Padam Shree for being the scion of this art, took this art far and wide internationally. She came from a Brahmin family and had a typical style of depicting Gods and Godesses and other everyday life and festivals through her paintings. In the 1960s a Chinese researcher had visited her along with Indira Gandhi and was very influenced by the art. She later came to the village and saw women with Godana (tattooes done on women which looked like jewellery) on their bodies and asked her if she could depict those in the form of paintings. Being a Brahmin, Sita Devi refused as it was formidable for her to do the job of Nats, the low-caste people. She called Chano Devi who was a Natti, to do the painting. And hence originated the Godna style of paintings.It is mostly done in black and white with lot of details, and is done by the lower caste women of the society. The third group of artists from Ganga Devi’s family belonged to the Kayastha community in Rasheedpur, further down from Jitwarpur. This style of Madhubani is full of lines and the stories depict scenes from Ramayan and Mahabharat and the everyday life scenes from the village. I later visited Ganga Devi’s place as well which was another great experience 🙂
It was such an enchanting story of art, I wonder how much of it is actually true, but it is this personal interpretation of history of art is all that makes it special. I have earlier read so much about Madhubani but nothing has stayed so clear in my mind like this one. I was so influenced by his narration; I almost fell in love with the art all over again!
I wish to achieve the same impression of the Self in whatever products we make at Moya and let people add a bit of themselves in what they buy 🙂
See you soon with some more from my heart….