When Jyoti from Darbhanga (of Mithila region) started practicing Mithila painting as a profession after having searched for a job for 7-8 months, she never thought that she would earn three to four times more than her usual job. Jyoti sells her hand-painted Mithila artwork in the local market as well as in another states. “I have been making Mithila painting since my school days, but after graduation, I needed a job. I searched for a job for a few months and when I was not able to find an appropriate job for myself, I thought of making my art my profession,” said Jyoti.
Jyoti is not the only artist who made this popular art their full-time profession. There are thousands of people in the Mithila region who are making a good income by selling Mithila paintings all over the world. Remant Kumar Mishra, an artist from the Madhubani district, sold almost 20,000 Mithila painting-masks when writer and activist Advait Kala urged people to buy his masks over a tweet.
Traditionally, Mithila art was practiced by women on the walls of their house with the help of their hands, twigs, brushes, nib-pens and matchsticks. The women also use natural dyes and pigments on the occasion of Holi, Kali puja, Durga puja other regional festival. But as time changed, both men and women took up this profession. With the help of local administration and cheaper internet, it has become easy for the professional artists in the area to sell their product online at a reasonable price, and that too, to anywhere in the world.
Dr Thyagrajan SM, District Magistrate of Darbhanga, who got in touch with Amazon and got the Mithila masks available for online sale, said that they are making all the efforts to make this art reach all over the world. We are in touch with a few institutions that make Mithila art on a various object such as masks, bedsheets, cushions, sarees etc. We connect them to various online commercial platform so that they can sell their product anywhere.
The art tradition got even more popular when PM Modi appreciated Mithila painting artisans for their efforts in making Mithila painting-masks during the pandemic. Padma Shri recipient Baua Devi, while talking to Hindustan Times, said, “Now it is very easy to reach any part of the world and sell the product. We made all efforts to make this art popular in my time and now I am happy that people are recognising this art all over the world and keeping this art in their homes and workspaces with full pride. We are even selling products overseas and the demand is overwhelming.”
With a lot of demand in the market, many art institutions are opening up to teach Mithila art. One of the most popular is the Mithila Art Institute, recently opened by Bihar government in Madhubani. There are various other private institution such as Mithila Art, Mahima Mithila art in Darbhanga and Madhubani that also provide a certificate course. Mithila Art institute is also based in the USA, apart from Madhubani, where it trains 25-30 talented students every year. The institute’s aim is to connect through the art and culture of Mithila and take it to the contemporary global society.