Ganga Devi: tradition and expression in Mithila painting

Front Cover
Mapin Pub., 1997 - Art - 135 pages
In the Mithila region of north Bihar there is an old tradition of painting the walls of the nuptial chamber. The paintings are an assemblage of symbolic images of the lotus plant, the bamboo grove, fishes, birds and snakes in union, and represent fertility and the proliferation of life. According to conventional ritual practice, the bride and the groom spend three nights in this chamber without cohabiting, and on the fourth, amidst the paintings, consummate the marriage. Ganga Devi, both as a person and as an artist, was rooted in the tradition of Mithila painting. While the tradition was deeply ingrained in her and was a source of inspiration in her work, and of courage in her tormented personal life, she was one of the few Mithila artists to respond spontaneously and sensitively to the new possibilities offered by the availability of paper in the region. The creative expression of rural and tribal artists has always been seen by most art historians as a product of ethnic collectivity whose authenticity lies in the remoteness of time and space. This study is the first of its kind, tracing the growth of a rural artist's work from her early paintings to her venturing out into narrative and autobiographical work, and the invention of a new pictorial vocabulary.

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