Tuesday, March 21, 2023 | Sha'ban 28, 1444 H
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Turning Arab experiences to Madhubani art



People, since ancient times, draw on walls and stones to document their history. These drawings also served as a way to pass knowledge to future generations and to this day had helped modern scientists and sociologists to understand how ancient civilizations functioned.

While most of these drawings are considered primitive, they become essential tools in understanding how society grew overtime. It is for this intriguing reason that young Omani artist Marwa al Hinaei has gravitated towards stone-age painting.

“I’ve been very interested to read about history, Arabic poetry, and Omani novels and stories. After studying these materials, I’m always inspired to translate this knowledge into fine art,” Marwa shared.

“Sometimes, however, I find it challenging to tell these stories, especially on social media. What I did is turn to the primitive method of painting, one that has been used back in the Stone Age to execute my ideas,” she explained.

While she has gone through different phases and genre of art since her childhood, she currently has developed her passion for Madhubani or Mithila Art.

“I focus, currently, in Indian folk arts and they are Madhubani art or Mithila art (practised in the Mithila region of the Indian subcontinent and done with a variety of tools, including fingers, twigs, brushes, nib-pens, and matchsticks while using natural dyes and pigments) and Warli art,” she shared.

“By turning to this style, I was able to convey the story, translate them into an artistic style that everyone can understand,” she said.

Marwa said that she was intrigued by the symbolism and elements of this art and once her curiosity was piqued, she went to fully study everything that makes it beautiful.

“The Indian arts”, she explained, “they love colours and motifs and they add them densely to their artworks. Madhubani art, Mandala art, rangoli art, Warli art and Saura art are examples of Indian arts that mirror each other in some sense.”

In Madhubani art, “each artwork is decorated with motifs in the border. Each object has a border. The spaces should be covered by motifs and colours. It is 2D art without details of objects as in the real world. For the face, it is an important feature to have a sharp, pointed nose and big bulging eyes, rich with colours,” she said.

“I attempt to define Arab culture and biography of their heroes. I painted stories of Arabic literature, stories from Palestine and I painted about the Omani culture. I love to use fashion to express who we are and what is our identity; I have a massage and I want to tell others this is our culture,” she explained.

Her favourite artwork, as she shared, are those which tell stories about Palestine because she painted them out of her feeling and beliefs.

“As I have a message for every art piece, I find the Madhubani art as a good way to translate stories and poetry about that land.”

“Omani table and family gathering” painting is another colourful drawing with Madhubani art style.

“It shows the Omani table and Omani cuisine. This table is considered sacred among the Omanis because it gives a meaning of family bonding amongst the members of the family. It is a small table with affection, tenderness and warmth”.

Marwa, also, reflects a scene from Omani folk games, “Hobboah Moh Tdoory (Grandma, what are you looking for?”, using Madhubani art. Omani folk games are a pastime for boys and girls. They use some materials available in nature, such as small stones, wood and shells.

“Hobboah Moh Tdoory” is one of these games, it is intended for girls. They select one of them to be the grandmother “Hobboah” who is searching for something around her and the girls start to sing a song.

“Omani Sword” painting is another favourite artwork for Marwa. A sword is a weapon, it is a sign of strength and it’s not just used by men but women too. Women take care of it and decorate it with motifs, gold, silver, and precious stones. They, also, used the sword as a piece of home decoration.

“By using Madhubani art style, I try to reflect that strength, care and love by drawing Omani woman holding a sword,” she said.

Artists in all field face challenges. For Marwa, the “Difference of cultures between us ( I mean Muslims and non-muslims) will make difficulties to understand because Madhubani art began as religious art. When I asked some Madhubani artists if I made mistakes when I draw, the answer they give me was that I have my own style.

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