1 May 2011
Last updated at 01:35
The ancient art of Madhubani is widely practised in the Mithila region of the northern Indian state of Bihar. The art originated from Madhubani town and traditionally the artists were all women.
Originally, pictures were painted on the mud walls of village huts. But now artists paint on paper, cloth and canvas too. The art is generally passed on from parents to children.
A prominent Madhubani artist today is Rajkumar Lal who learned painting from his mother who in turn learned from her morther - both women were given prestigious awards by the Indian government.
Mr Lal's wife, Vibha Lal, won a state government award in 2010. "Madhubani is part of our culture. Everyone learns a bit of it," she says. Mrs Lal learnt the intricacies of Madhubani from her husband and mother-in-law and most likes to paint religious figures.
The Lals are now involved in the promotion of Madhubani and hold regular training sessions for women and young girls at home.
In a cramped courtyard, about a dozen women are hunched over drawings, paintbrush in hand, adding bright colours to drawings.
College graduate Ashi Rai has been attending Madhubani classes since December: "I wish more people would learn Madhubani. It's our traditional culture and art form. It must be followed and promoted."
Finishing a painting can take days, sometimes even weeks or months. Most artists draw religious figures, but now some are also painting contemporary themes like farming scenes or women fetching water from the village well. (Text and photos: Geeta Pandey)