Perhaps the best-known genre of Indian folk paintings is the Mithila (also called Madhubani) paintings from the Mithila region of Bihar state. This popular art of the Mithila region is known for expressing the creativity and sensitivity of its people and is characterized by eye-catching geometrical patterns which is done using fingers, twigs, brushes, nib-pens, and sometimes even matchsticks.
Madhubani is traditionally made on walls and cow dung-washed hand papers, with modern times the medium of art shifted to canvas, and on rare occasions to cloth. Natural dye and colors are used in the creation of Madhubani artworks with geometrical figures and vibrant colors being key elements. Commonly depicted subjects in Madhubani paintings are Ardhanarishvara (depicted as half male and half female of the Hindu God Shiva, and His goddess Parvati – a unison of supreme powers), Mythological characters (Ram, Sita, etc), Festivals, Marriages, Sun and Moon.
Traditionally, the art form has been a woman’s preserve and is considered a key part of the education of Mithila women, culminating in the painting of the walls of the kohbar, or nuptial chamber on the occasion of a wedding. Kohbar is where the bride and groom consummate their marriage spends their first four nights, is the most vibrantly painted section of the house. The kohbar ghar paintings are based on mythological, folk themes and tantric symbolism, though the central theme is invariably love and fertility.