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Turning his skills to the need of the hour, Remant Kumar Mishra ships masks with pretty motifs all over India

When the full impact of the COVID-19 pandemic hit India in March, noted Madhubani artist Remant Kumar Mishra, 37, decided to turn adversity into an opportunity. Now going by a new sobriquet of Bihar’s “mask man”, Mr. Mishra despatches masks with hand-painted Madhubani motifs all over India.

Hailing from the Jitwarpur village under the Rahika block of Madhubani district in north Bihar, on March 9, Mr. Mishra distributed 650 masks with Madhubani (also known as Mithila painting) motifs among district officials and his acquaintances, seeking their feedback.

“They appreciated my effort as the masks are not only comfortable to wear but also look ethnic and trendy,” Mr. Mishra, who has been a Madhubani artist from the age of 10, told The Hindu over phone. His grandmother, mother, wife and other family members also paint in the Madhubani style. “In every household here you can find a Mithila painting artist,” he said.

Ranti under the Rajnagar block is another hub for this craft tradition. Mythological characters, and aspects of nature are central motifs in this style of painting, originally rendered only with fingers and natural colours. “But now we use brushes, nib-pens and synthetic colours as well to paint Mithila art,” said Mr. Mishra.

Widespread acclaim

A widely travelled man, Mr. Mishra has been to China four times, and has also visited Sri Lanka, Italy and Mauritius as a participant in craft festivals. In India, he has been conferred with several awards by the state. His masterful paintings adorn walls at the Power Grid Corporation Limited; the Central Bank of India’s Officers Training Colleges in Kolkata and Bhopal; and the Government Guest House in Madhubani.

 

His phone has been ringing constantly with orders after his masks went viral on social media. “I heard that social activist and writer Advaita Kala tweeted about my masks, which helped other people all over the country find out about them. I am thankful to her,” he said, adding that he now engages nearly 300 villagers, including 15 tailors from his locality, in preparing masks.

He has been receiving orders over phone or WhatsApp from Chennai, Bengaluru, Delhi, and from other parts of the country, including Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Chhatisgarh. Leader of Opposition in the State Assembly Tejashwi Yadav and others have been seen sporting masks with Mithila art.

₹50 a piece

In the past three months, Mr. Mishra said, he had sent over 14,000 masks by courier or India Post in sanitised packages on a first come-first served basis. He charges ₹50 apiece for his three-layered cotton masks featuring Madhubani motifs. “We also have masks with catchy slogans like ‘go corona’, ‘namaste karna hai, haath nahi milana hai’ (‘greet greet each other with folded hands, don’t shake hands’),” he said.

He orders his cotton fabric from Warangal in Telangana. “I am quite particular about choosing the right fabric. My first priority is the safety and satisfaction of my customers,” the artist said. He can be reached 8789183527 and 9899429912.

You can reach him from twitter https://twitter.com/remantkumarmish/

Source Contents https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/meet-remant-kumar-mishra-the-madhubani-artist-also-known-as-the-mask-man-of-bihar/article32163974.ece

Madhubani Painting

Madhubani painting, also referred to as Mithila Art (as it flourishes in the Mithila region of Bihar), is characterized by line drawings filled in by bright colours and contrasts or patterns. This style of painting has been traditionally done by the women of the region, though today men are also involved to meet the demand. These paintings are popular because of their tribal motifs and use of bright earthy colours. These paintings are done with mineral pigments prepared by the artists. The work is done on freshly plastered or a mud wall.

For commercial purposes, the work is now being done on paper, cloth, canvas etc. Cotton wrapped around a bamboo stick forms the brush. Black colour is obtained by mixing soot with cow dung; yellow from turmeric or pollen or lime and the milk of banyan leaves; blue from indigo; red from the kusam flower juice or red sandalwood; green from the leaves of the wood apple tree; white from rice powder; orange from palasha flowers. The colours are applied flat with no shading and no empty space is left.

Figures from nature & mythology are adapted to suit their style. The themes & designs widely painted are of Hindu deities such as Krishna, Rama, Siva, Durga, Lakshmi, Saraswati, Sun and Moon, Tulasi plant, court scenes, wedding scenes, social happenings etc. Floral, animal and bird motifs, geometrical designs are used to fill up all the gaps. The skill is handed down the generations, and hence the traditional designs and patterns are widely maintained.

In order to create a source of non-agricultural income, the All India Handicrafts Board and the Government of India have been encouraging the women artists to produce their traditional paintings on handmade paper for commercial sale. Madhubani painting has become a primary source of income for scores of families. The continuing market in this art throughout the world is a tribute to the resourcefulness of the women of Mithila who have successfully transferred their techniques of bhitti chitra or wall painting to the medium of paper.

Madhubani Paintings

  • Madhubani art (or Mithila painting) is a style of Indian painting, practised in the Mithila region of Bihar.
  • This painting is done with a variety of tools, including fingers, twigs, brushes, nib-pens, and matchsticks and using natural dyes and pigments.
  • It is characterized by its eye-catching geometrical patterns.
  • It was traditionally created by the women of various communities in the Mithila region of the Indian subcontinent.
  • This painting as a form of wall art was practised widely throughout the region; the more recent development of painting on paper and canvas mainly originated among the villages around Madhubani.
  • It is these latter developments that led to the term “Madhubani art” being used alongside “Mithila Painting.”

Its features

  • It uses two-dimensional imagery, and the colours used are derived from plants. Ochre, Lampblack and Red are used for reddish-brown and black, respectively.
  • It mostly depicts people and their association with nature and scenes and deities from the ancient epics.
  • Natural objects like the sun, the moon, and religious plants like tulsi are also widely painted, along with scenes from the royal court and social events like weddings.
  • Generally, no space is left empty; the gaps are filled by paintings of flowers, animals, birds, and even geometric designs.
  • Madhubani art has five distinctive styles: Bharni, Kachni, Tantrik, Godna and Kohbar.
  • This painting has also received a GI (Geographical Indication) status.

Madhubani Paintings Mask #Bihar

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37. In Bihar, many women self help groups have begun making masks with Madhubani motifs…These masks, in a way, propagate a regional tradition; besides protecting health, they also create opportunities for livelihood: PM narendramodiIn Bihar, many women self help groups have begun making masks with Madhubani motifs…These masks, in a way, propagate a regional tradition; besides protecting health, they also create opportunities for livelihood:  PM narendramodi

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