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Gauri Mishra - The folk paintings of Mithila (Madhubani)

The folk paintings of Mithila (~Madhubani) are the joyous expressions of the Mithila women. The murals are distinctive in their rich and lively compositions and vibrant colours using themes from Hindu Mythology, maithil tantrik traditions and legends play significant roles in ancient life cycle ceremonies. For centuries women decorate the walls and floors with this painting.

About the Author

Mrs. Gauri Mishra, popularly called 'Maaji' has spent her life for the cause of Madhubani Painting artists. Initially, she worked as a Lecturer at M.R.M. college, Darbhanga. When she was introduced to the realities of the rural people of Mithila, she started meeting the poorest families and mingled with them in their own setting. Since then, her love and affection for the rural poor, especially women grew. During this period Ms. Mishra also became aware of the plight of poor women artists by the middlemen taking huge profits and the artists getting penny. A painting of some of the major artists, was bought for Rs 3 which fetched Rs 345 in Bombay and Delhi. In 1974, Dr Satish Chandra of All India Handicrafts Board suggested that Ms. Gauri should form an association of Madhubani Painting artists Association which could promote the cause by supporting raw materials for the paintings and at the same time perform the critical function of marketing those paintings.

In March, 1977 Mrs. Mishra started working with Fulbright Scholar Anthropologist Scholar, Dr Raymond Lee Owens for the rights of Madhubani Painting Artists. By November 1977, Mastercraftmen's Association for Mithila was formed and registered as a society in Patna. Few years later, Gauri Maa formed SEWA (Self Employed Women's Association) Mithila, an organization dedicated to the cause of empowerment and upliftment of rural women.

These efforts by Gauri Maa started giving its dividends to the Artists. It helped in empowering thousands of women in these rural areas of Bihar by making them self-dependent. The goal of these associations was not only to promote and take this famous Folk art to every corner of the world but in this effort, the endeavour is to bring employment and a better social life for all the hardworking artists of this region and also protecting the artists from exploitation at the hands of middle men. Promoting and commercializing Mithila Painting was a tool to empower these oppressed sections of society and to protect them from the evils of society.

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