MITHILA a region, a rich cultural legacy, a cradle of creativity and a special style of painting .Mithila means all this and more. Tucked away in the foothills of the Himalayas, Mithila is surrounded by rivers ñ the Ganges to the south, the Koshi in the east and the Gandak in the west. The region has its own way of life, religious philosophy, culture, code of social conduct and language on one hand; art, craft and music on the other.
For thousand of years, generation after generation, the women of Mithila have been making ceremonial and devotional floor paintings and wall murals, associated with various festivals and auspicious occasions. They use vivid natural colours, applying these with simple brushes made of bamboo and raw cotton. These paintings contributed to the culture of the region, which survived, and flourished due to countless recapitulation of abstract designs by the women, without much conscious effort. Thus, the ancient culture and tradition of Mithila has been treasured by the women in the folk paintings on the walls of the houses. The pictures on the wall served as living picture books, a vibrant means of visual education, from which a young girl, under the guidance of an experienced lady such as her mother, grandmother or neighbour, learnt to draw stories from ancient epics, myths and legends. The symbols in the paintings were a means of learning and exploring tantras, meditation, sexuality, decoration and culture. The figures in Kohbar had distinct meaning to newlyweds, combining sexuality with spirituality. Thus, even women unversed in the alphabet were steeped in Mithila paintings. These artists of Mithila had no set principles and instructions from any art book to follow. Free of stylistic influences, their own ideas and imagination played a vital role in creating a particular work of art. Strong, unrealistic natural colours and forms imparted an additional sense of the dramatic to paintings infused with an innocent and primal energy.