Maa Kaali


Mithila painting is a traditional mural artform from Madhubani district, Bihar. The artform is known to be a woman’s preserve, one that has roots in the wedding rituals of the Maithil community. Today, many artists from both genders create canvases filled with depictions of religious gods and symbols, socio-political issues as well as rural and natural life. Over the years, Mithila art and artists have acquired tremendous popularity among national as well as international audiences.

This painting created by Krishnanand Jha showcases the Goddess Kali. The canvas is divided into five panels, each of which depicts the Goddess at various stages. In the rightmost panel, the four armed goddess is seated on a lotus. In the three panels after that we see her seated on a throne, then atop a corpse being carried by a procession of men, and later in a trance standing on top of the corpse. In the final one, we see her recognize the man as Shiva, and then strike out her tongue. The painting shows the Hindu myth where an infuriated Kali destroys all men and Shiva, in an attempt to calm her, lies down beneath her. Her transformation is shown quite remarkably in the painting, with particular attention being given to the morphing of her facial expressions, her changing weapons, and attire. The colour scheme used is red and light green-blue accompanied with strong black patterns and lines. The use of white skin colour puts the Goddess in the centre, making it easier to recognize her morphing traits, amongst all other action.

Krishnanand Jha (1938-2018) was one of the first male artists to pursue Mithila art as a profession. Born to a tantric priest, Krishnanand himself followed tantric rituals. This is why most of his work depicts gods and goddesses. Krishnanand’s paintings began getting attention in the 1980s as they were unlike any other Mithila works. Jha mastered the Kachni style creating exemplary lineworks and patterns using them. At the Ethnic Arts Foundation’s exhibition ‘Mithila Art: the New Generation’ in New Delhi, 2013, he was honored for his life’s work.

To read more on the artform, click here.

Maa Kaali
Krishnanand Jha
Ink on paper
H: 28.4 cm x W: 76.2 cm
Accession No.