Godawari Dutta (b. 1930)
A first-generation painter of the Madhubani tradition, Godawari Dutta was born in the village of Bahadurpur in Darbhanga, Bihar. Dutta began painting in secret from the age of six; her mother, Subhadra Devi was a Madhubani artist, and she feared being criticised for her paintings. However, when her mother found her paintings, she encouraged her to continue practising and also trained her. Dutta received formal education until the ninth standard and got married in 1947, giving birth to her son soon thereafter.
Dutta’s husband abandoned her early in the marriage and the responsibility to run the household and raise her son was left to her. She began painting to earn an income, which was made possible by the initiative taken by All India Handicrafts Board to sell Madhubani paintings. Through the support of the All India Handicrafts Board, Dutta was introduced to national and international collectors and artists who were interested in her work. As she received more recognition, Dutta was invited by educational institutions to train people in Madhubani art.
Dutta paints in kachni style popular among Kayastha practitioners, where rectilinear and curvilinear lines are drawn to depict gods. Her paintings draw elements from Hindu mythology and the social life of the village. Her drawings are intricate and often large-sized, and she favours black and white contrasts over colour. Unlike most artists who took up fine brushes when they started painting on canvas and paper, Dutta uses bamboo sticks to paint. Among her most notable works are her paintings of trishul (trident), damru (drum) and naag (cobra) associated with the deity Shiva, as well as puranic scenes such as Samudramanthan and Buddhist icons such as the Bodhi tree.
Her painting of a twelve feet long and eighteen feet wide cobra, made in 2018, is displayed in the Bihar Museum, Patna. She is one of the first Madhubani painters to be associated with the Mithila Museum, Tokamachi, Japan. Involved since its very inception, Dutta worked at the museum for seven years, spending close to six months a year there. In December 1983, Dutta initiated the Mithila Kala Vikas Samiti, an organisation that trains women in Madhubani and supports them in obtaining an income through it. Dutta received the National Award in 1980 and the Shilpa Guru award in 2006. She was awarded the Padma Shri by the Government of India in 2019.
At the time of writing, Dutta lives and works in Madhubani, Bihar.
Bose, Arijit. “Epitome of Artistic Brilliance, Padmashri Godavari Dutta has continued to enlighten young minds about Mithila Art.” Lucknow Tribune, June 7, 2021. https://thelucknowtribune.com/epitome-of-artistic-brilliance-padmashri-godavari-dutta-has-continued-to-enlighten-young-minds-about-mithila-art/
Das, Kumud. “Mithila Painting Goes Global.” Namaste Bharat. Accessed November 15, 2021. https://namastebharatmagazine.com/mithila-painting-goes-global/
“Mithila Kala Vikas Samiti”. Mithilia India. Accessed November 15, 2021. http://www.mithilaindia.in/index.html?i=1
Kumar, Smita. “Artist to chart new waters, in book – Octogenarian comes a long way from scared girl to face of Mithila art.” Telegraph, March 16, 2014. https://www.telegraphindia.com/bihar/artist-to-chart-new-waters-in-book-octogenarian-comes-a-long-way-from-scared-girl-to-face-of-mithila-art/cid/199673
Uphade, Ritesh. “Godawari Dutta: An Artist of Dreams.” TerseBox, March 4, 2019. http://tersebox.com/godawari-dutta/