India's Mithila Painting (Global South Asia) (Hardcover)

India's Mithila Painting (Global South Asia) By David L. Szanton (Editor), Paula Richman (Editor) Cover Image

India's Mithila Painting (Global South Asia) (Hardcover)

By David L. Szanton (Editor), Paula Richman (Editor)


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A woman's art form transforms from home to high art

Since at least the fifteenth century, Hindu women in the Mithila region of northern India have been painting images of deities, flora and fauna symbolizing fertility and prosperity, and floor designs that sacralize sites for ritual within their homes. Their artwork remained ephemeral since its plant-based colors faded over time. In response to an extended drought that led to widespread crop failure in the 1960s, the Indian government's All India Handicraft Board provided high-quality paper to the women of Mithila to test the income-generating possibilities of transferring wall and floor artwork to a new medium. The unique Mithila aesthetic, novel compositions, and precise linework won enthusiastic buyers in New Delhi and abroad. The small number of women painters expanded across the ranks of the social hierarchy and even included a few men. They developed individual styles and depicted novel subjects such as village history, their own life stories, the tsunami in Sri Lanka, social justice, protecting trees, and changing social norms.

Major international museums now house Mithila collections, and individuals around the world own paintings. This volume, the first to present an up-to-date analysis of the history and practitioners of Mithila painting, includes contributions from Mithila artists, anthropologists, art historians, historians of Indian religions and specialists of visual culture, gender studies, and translation studies.

Paula Richman, William H. Danforth Professor of South Asian Religions emerita at Oberlin College, has published multiple books and articles on the Indian Ramayana tradition. David L. Szanton, a social anthropologist and president of the Ethnic Arts Foundation, has curated Mithila painting exhibitions internationally. He is visiting professor at the Society, Work, and Politics Institute at the University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg.
Product Details ISBN: 9780295753225
ISBN-10: 0295753226
Publisher: University of Washington Press
Publication Date: January 28th, 2025
Pages: 320
Language: English
Series: Global South Asia