Art and Crafts in Bihar


A classic Madhubani painting

Madhubani paintings is a style of Indian painting, practiced in the Mithila region of Bihar. Tradition states that this style of painting originated at the time of the Ramayana, when King Janak commissioned artists to do paintings at the time of marriage of his daughter, Sita, to Lord Ram. The painting was traditionally done on freshly plastered mud wall of huts, but now it is also done on cloth, hand-made paper and canvas. Madhubani painting mostly depict nature and Hindu religious motifs, and the themes generally revolve around Hindu deities like Krishna, Ram, Shiva, Durga, Lakshmi, and Saraswati. Natural objects like the sun, the moon, and religious plants like tulsi are also widely painted, along with scenes from the royal court and social events like weddings. Generally no space is left empty. Traditionally, painting was one of the skills that was passed down from generation to generation in the families of the Mithila Region, mainly by women. The painting was usually done on walls during festivals, religious events, and other milestones of the life-cycle such as birth, Upanayanam (Sacred thread ceremony), and marriage. Manjusha Kala or Angika Art is an art form of Anga region of Bihar. Patna School of Painting or Patna Qalaam, some times also called Company painting, offshoot of the well-known Mughal Miniature School of Painting flourished in Bihar during early 18th to mid-20th century. The practitioners of this art form were descendants of Hindu artisans of Mughal painting who facing persecution from the Mughal Emperor, Aurangzeb found refuge, via Murshidabad, in Patna during late 18th century. They shared the characteristics of the Mughal painters, but unlike them (whose subjects included only royalty and court scenes), the Patna painters also started painting bazaar scenes. The paintings were executed in watercolours on paper and on mica. Favourite subjects were scenes of Indian daily life, local rulers, and sets of festivals and ceremonies. Most successful were the studies of natural life, but the style was generally of a hybrid and undistinguished quality. It is this school of painting that formed the nucleus for the formation of the Patna Art School under the leadership of Shri Radha Mohan. College of arts and crafts Patna is an important center of Fine Arts in Bihar.

The first sculptures in Bihar date back to the Mauryan empire, where stone and bronze figures have been discovered. Pillars of Ashoka and Didarganj Yakshi is estimated to be at least 2000 years old; and is carved out of a single piece of stone.The statues found all over the Bihar.

6th Century CE Bronze Statue of Sultanganj Buddha(Birghimham Museum)

Sculpture were also made from Bronze and significantly advance at those time,a wonderful example of this 1500 Yrs Old Sultanganj Buddha Statue ,which is about 7 ft & made of 500 kg Bronze (Largest of that period). A multiplicity of statues, ranging from Hellenistic gods, to various Gandharan lay devotees, are combined with what are thought as some of the early representations of the Buddha [disambiguation needed] and Bodhisattvas. Today, it is still unclear when the Greco-Buddhist art of Gandhara exactly emerged, but the findings in Sirkap do indicate that this art was already highly developed before the advent of the Kushans. Mandar Hill is also very important as it has the unique of Gupta period’s image of Lord Vishnu, in his man-lion incarnation, has not been shown as tearing Hiranyakashipu. The image is 34 inches high and made of black stone.[6] Most the Hindu and Buddhism sculptures was destroyed by Muslim invaders along with the other major centers of Hinduism andBuddhism in India.

The first Architectures in Bihar date back to the vedic period While the Mauryan period marked a second transition to use of brick and stone, wood was still the material of choice. Chanakya in the arthashastra advises the use of brick and stone for their durability.

Mauryanarchitecture in the Barabar Mounts. Grottoe of Lomas Richi. 3rd century BCE.

Megasthenes mentions that the capital city of Pataliputra was encircled by a wooden palisade. Evidence of this has been found in recent excavations in Kumrahar in modern day Patna. Remains of an 80 pillared hall has also been unearthed. Many stupas like those at Nalanda and Vikramshila were originally built as brick and masonry mounds during the reign of Ashoka.
The Buddhist stupa, a dome shaped monument, was used in India as a commemorative monument associated with storing sacred relics.The stupa architecture was adopted in Southeast and East Asia, where it became prominent as a Buddhist monument used for enshrining sacred relics. Upon its discovery, this architectural became known as pagoda to the people from the Western world. Fortified cities with stūpas, viharas, and temples were constructed during the Maurya empire (c. 321–185 BCE). Wooden architecture was popular and rock cut architecture became solidified. Guard rails—consisting of posts, crossbars, and a coping—became a feature of safety surrounding a stupa. Temples—build on elliptical, circular, quadrilateral, or apsidal plans—were constructed using brick and timber. The Indian gateway arches, the torana, reached East Asia with the spread of Buddhism. Some scholars hold that torii derives from the torana gates at the Buddhist historic site of Sanchi (3rd century BCE – 11th century CE).
Walled and moated cities with large gates and multi-storied buildings which consistently used arched windows and doors are important features of the architecture during this period. The Indian emperor Ashoka (rule: 273 BCE to 232 BCE) himself established a chain of hospitals throughout the Mauryan empire by 230 BCE.One of the edicts of Ashoka (272—231 BCE) reads: “Everywhere King Piyadasi (Asoka) erected two kinds of hospitals, hospitals for people and hospitals for animals. Where there were no healing herbs for people and animals, he ordered that they be bought and planted.” Buddhist architecture blended with Roman architecture and Hellenestic architecture to give rise to unique blends—such as the Greco-Buddhist school. The state was largely in ruins when visited by Hsüan-tsang, and suffered further damage at the hands of Mughal raiders in the 12th century.Though parts of the Bihar have been excavated, much of it still lies buried beneath modern Bihar.Rock-cut stepwells in India date from 200-400 CE.Subsequently, the wells at Dhank (550-625 CE) and construction of stepped ponds at Bhinmal (850-950 CE) takes place.
Mughal tombs of sandstone and marble show Persian influence. Sher Shah Suri and his successor had created some eligent Mughal architecture like Sher Shah Suri Tomb. Ibrahim Khan, Governor of Bihar, who was also Makhdum Daulat’s disciple finished the construction of Makhdum Daulat in mausoleum in 1616. The building at Maner Sharif is a marvelous one. The walls of the building are adorned with intricate designs. There is a big dome on the top and the ceiling is full of inscriptions depicted from the Quran. Patna High Court, Bihar Vidhan Sabha, Bihar Vidhan Parishad, Transpert Bhawan, Patna, Golghar St. Mary’s Church and Patna Museum are some example of Indo-Saracenic Architectures.

The artisans of Bihar have been very skillful in creating articles using local materials. Baskets, cups and saucers made from bamboo-strips or cane reed are painted in vivid colors are commonly found in Bihari homes. A special container woven out of sikki grass in the north, the “pauti”, is a sentimental gift that accompanies a bride when she leaves her home after her wedding. The weavers of Bihar have been practicing their trade for centuries. Among their products in common use are the cotton dhurries and curtains. They are produced by artisans in central Bihar, particularly in the Patna and Biharsharif areas. These colourful sheets, with motifs of Buddhist artifacts, pictures of birds, animals, and/or flowers, gently wafting in the air through doors and windows, blown by a cool summer breeze, used to be one of the most soothing sights as one approached a home or an office. Bhagalpur is well known for its seri-culture, manufacture of silk yarn and weaving them into lovely products. It is known as the tussah or tussar silk.