Bihar’s exquisite Madhubani paintings are evolving in a new way – thousands of miles away in Mauritius.
It is now blend Mauritian culture to its already rich weave by drawing upon the history and of the erstwhile idyllic and sun baked French colony in the Indian Ocean. Importantly, it is helping bond with it's Bihar centric ethos in the language of the mythologically-rich folk art of Madhubani.
A workshop on stylising Madhubani paintings to fit Mauritian tastes has been on at the Department of Art & Crafts, Rabindranath Tagore Institute under the Youth, Sports, Art and Culture Ministry of Mauritius. Prof Anunay Choubey, principal of the College of Art and Craft, Patna, had set up the department in 2008.
Design consultant Amitabh Pandey and Madhubani painter Raj Kumar Lal, son of internationally known Madhubani painter late Yashoda Devi, are teaching the nuances of the folk art to the Mauritian artistes as well as school and college teachers.
What is, however, distinct is the innovations in the Madhubani paintings to depict Mauritian culture and history. “It has become quite popular, with the blending of regional colours and themes giving it an entirely new dimension. This is how the art evolves and gets richer. It also strengthens the Bihar-Maritian links,” says Choubey, who has also got another invite to visit the institute.
So, in Mauritius, Madhubani paintings no more weave traditional deities such as Krishna, Ram, Shiva, Durga or the scenes of wedding rituals and royal courts only. They have scenes depicting the history of Indian immigration to Mauritius, Mauritian legend of Mouria Pahar and Paritalaw – all done by the Mauritian artistes using Madhubani’s folk style and colours.
“When I was invited to Maurtius to set up the department, there was tremendous enthusiasm. It was a new journey for Madhubani paintings – crossing over boundaries and culture. Now, Mauritian artistes are also using regional colours and sugarcane leaves and creating locally-popular thematic designs,” Choubey said, adding that in the next phase art forms of sikki and sujini would also be taken to Mauritius.
According to Lal, for whom this is the second visit to Mauritius, the response to the workshop has been very good. “I was surprised to receive a New Year card this year on Madhubani paintings in Mauritian style. Now, paintings are being done on jute bags, sarees, other apparel, pen holders and file folders. It has picked up fast to provide a feel of Bihar far away from our shores,” he added.