Conceptualizing Economic Spaces in Mithila – Reinventing Madhubani Paintings

Authors: SURAJ PRASAD*, Department of geography, University of Delhi
Topics: Economic Geography, Cultural Geography, Tourism Geography
Keywords: Madhubani paintings, Creative economy, Women, Folk art, Economic space
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Madhubani painting of the Mithanchal region of Bihar has traditionally been the domain of women from Brahmin, Kayastha, and Dalit communities. The paintings mostly depict the men and their association with nature; the scenes and deity from the ancient epics. The present study tries to examine the economic implications of this folk art in Mithila region. It also tries to explore the impact of globalization on the societal stratification of this art, its gendered nature, and its social, economic, and cultural impacts on society in general, and women in particular.Traditionally, painting was one of the skills that were passed down from generation to generation in the families of the Mithila region, primarily by women. There are five distinctive styles in Madhubani art – Bharni, Katchni, Tantrik, Godna and Gobar painting. In 1960's Bharni, Katchni and Tantrik style was represented by Brahman and Kayastha women, while the Godna and Gobar style by dalit and dushadh women. However, globalization has not only affected the economic sphere of society but also has affected the social values, and as such, nowadays there is no caste bar among the artists of Madhubani Art. Economics of the business (folk art) has significant impact on structure of the producer and their profitability in Mithilanchal. It also looks after the factors involved into the sale and purchase of the madhubani painting. The paper would thus explore the socio-economic and spatial characteristics of Madhubani painting as well as the impact of globalization on this age old tradition of Bihar

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