The culturalheritage of India is enriched by the myriad arts, crafts and rituals thatabound from every region, colouring the lifestyles of people who have lived onthis land for centuries, often moulding exiting practices with their ownnovelties, adding uniqueness and regional colour. Art and paintings make up anintegral part of this legacy, existing in diversity and local flavours, madeusing distinctive materials and practices that render each art form notable andworthy of praise by art enthusiasts and collectors across the globe. However,within this splendour lie certain styles of painting that have been deemedobsolete or are sliding into extinction for lack of popularity and means,creating a void in the rich artistic culture that India boasts of, and this isa matter of concern that needs amends, rapidly and efficiently.Manjusha PaintingsBorn in the 7thcentury in the Anga Kingdom, presently the Bhagalpur region in the State ofBihar, this is a rare style of painting that is depicted in the form of aseries, with each canvas portraying a specific scene in sequence, quite like ascroll painting, often narrating folk tales of historical and culturalrelevance.
It was traditionally associated with the Bishahari festival,dedicated to the local snake God, and while it majorly represented theBihual-Bishari folklore, it also included a wide range of motifs such as thedieties Shiva and Hanuman, the sun, the moon, birds, flowers, etc; the bordersof these paintings were of various styles like Belpatr, Lehariya, Triangle,Mokha and patterns of snakes. The culturally vibrant and historicallysignificant art form flourished in the colonial period, but started waning inmagnitude by the 20th century, currently facing the threat ofobsolescence if not properly restored.Mithila PaintingsThis art ispractised exclusively by the women and girls of the Mithila region, where thiswas historically originated, and the paintings are characterised by vibrantcolours, which are used to depict local folklore which dates back to themarriage of Rama and Sita, along with other mythological events, socialactivities and festivities, drawn in subtle geometric patterns. These paintingswere generally made on the mud walls of houses in the community, but could alsobe made on cloth, handmade paper and canvas, and were using the faint colour ofcow dung as the base and natural colours created from fruits, flowers, leavesand roots, to give a natural, yet dynamic, look. The different styles includeBharni, Katchni, Tantrik, Godna and Kohbar, made by the females from variouscaste as a way to ensure self-independence; however, since the art is survivedonly by a single village, Mithila has reached a status of extinction, andrequires urgent steps for survival to continue the livelihood of women.
Tikuli PaintingsThis art formdates back 800 years and closely linked with feminine traditions, as it issupposed to symbolise the essence of the Bindi, the auspicious object worn bywomen on their foreheads, signifying their intellectual capacity and a symbolfor empowerment. The style was born in Patna, where its popularity attractedtraders to deal in these art works, especially during the Mughal reign, as therulers were fond of patronising spectacular art. Tikuli paintings are intricatepieces and require skill and work- they are made using gold foil, thwarts andgems on a glass base that give it the delicate, yet shiny appeal- and are hencehighly priced; while there is no denying the beauty of a Tikuli painting, thisstyle of art started losing admirers with the withdrawal of the Mughal Empireand the establishment of the Colonial rulers, and is now rapidly being replacedby industrialised products.
Davli PaintingsDavli paintings,also called Mlaveli vayana, refer to a scroll painting tradition of Kerala,where art is often closely intertwined with folk narration that evokes a richculture that distinguishes the region, while adding to the artistic charm ofIndia. The artists, known as Mlaveli pandaram, depict two or three episodes ofthe local Shiva myths on a single piece of canvas, creating several pieces torepresent the entire epic; traditionally, these artists carried the paintingsfrom door to door in the villages in Ernakulam and Kottayam districts to narratethe epics to the community while unravelling their work like scrolls togenerate interest and perpetuate the knowledge of myths. While this entireprocess possessed immense religious significance, it is now carried out only bya few artisans in the Aluva area of the district of Ernakulam, and is propersteps are not taken, this art might be rendered extinct in the next couple ofyears.