|A Godavari Dutta painting|
on the wall of her house
Well, I didn't either, but that was before visiting Madhubani.
Ranti village in Madhubani is home to quite a few famous madhubani artists like Mahasundari devi and Godavari Dutta.We wanted to meet at least one of them, and as luck would have it we did meet with Godavari Dutta. Godavari Dutta is over 80 years old but she is so active at this age that you will find it hard to believe that she is over 80! A Rashtrapati award winner for her excellence in painting and social welfare, She is quite a well known name in Madhubani.
We reached her place around 1 pm, and she was actually resting then. We did not want to disturb her because it was after all an odd time to call on anyone. But then we did not have an option to visit her later:(
Her daughter- in- law who received us said that her mother-in-law would be happy to meet anyone who wants to know about Madhubani paintings. We settled down and started admiring the paintings on the walls of the house. Godavari Dutta joined us soon after.
I was admiring the painting on a wall (the topmost image) , when she came in to the room. She told us that this paiting is over 30 years old. She talked about how she began painting, about how popular madhubani painting is abroad, especially in Japan. That's when we found out that Japan has a museum dedicated to Madubani paintings. Most of the paintings in the museum have been sourced from areas in and around Madhubani and Nepal. Quite often they invite Madhubani artists to Japan, to paint. Godavari Dutta was also invited several times to Japan and her paintings are on display in the museum.
The museum is in a place not very far from Tokyo, in Oike, surrounded by forests and as close to nature as possible. What used to be an abandoned elementary school is now home to the largest collection of Indian and Nepalese Madhubani paintings. Hasegawa Tokio, who opened the museum in May 1982, has visited India several times, and collected a lot of paintings for the museum. The idea behind opening this museum was to create a cosmic space where art and nature co-exists.
I don't think we have anything like this in India yet, which is sad. Because someday our old forms of art may disappear and there is nothing we can do about it unless we make an effort to preserve these now.