• Friday, May 24, 2024

G20

Outside diplomacy: Meet Shanti Devi, Madhubani maestro who won hearts at G20 with exquisite paintings

Her latest creation depicts the success of Chandrayaan-3, India’s latest lunar mission that successfully landed on the moon last month and she wants to present it to Modi.

(L-R) Shanti Devi makes a Madhubani painting at the ‘Crafts Bazaar’ which was organised to showcase India’s rich and diverse craftsmanship during the G20 summit in New Delhi and the painting she made depicting India’s Chandrayaan-3 success. (Picture: Press Information Bureau X account/@PIB_India)

By: Shubham Ghosh

WHILE the ninth and tenth day of September 2023 saw a number of top leaders from around the world gathering in New Delhi for the G20 summit and making hectic parleys with the media focusing on them, there were also others from outside the diplomatic community who also came under the limelight for other reasons.

One of them is Shanti Devi from the eastern Indian state of Bihar. Aged around 60, she was one of the top crowd pullers at the mega event with her exquisite Madhubani paintings, a traditional Indian art form that is also called Mithila art, that have not only earned her accolades but also a national award for elegant craftsmanship.

Artists and artisans from across India came together at the ‘Crafts Bazaar’ organised at Bharat Mandapam, the venue of the G20 summit, to showcase the country’s rich and diverse arts and craftsmanship, each reflecting regional uniqueness.

India hosts G20 summit 2023
The Madhubani painting made by Shanti Devi depicting India’s Chandrayaan-3 lunar mission that successfully touched the moon’s surface in August 2023. (Picture: Press Information Bureau X account/@PIB_India)

According to a blog by Lekshmi Priya SS, assistant director (Indian Information Service) from the Indian ministry of information and broadcasting for the Press Information Bureau of the Indian government, “With a warm smile and an air of simplicity that instantly captivates, this unassuming artisan stands as a testament to the power of art to transcend boundaries. Her eyes sparkle with a quiet wisdom that comes from years of devotion to her craft.”

It also said that the Madhubani paintings are known for their “intricate detailing and vibrant colours” where the artists use only natural pigments and brushes made from twigs to make the artworks and it takes an incredible amount of patience and dedication to make a single piece.

According to the blog, Shanti Devi dedicates 7-10 days to each of the masterpieces that she makes.

In the pre-pandemic days, she would sell her artworks for Rs 5,000 (£48.14) each to support her family. During the pandemic, her sales dropped and left her with an uncertain future. But she did not lose hope.

The veteran artist also includes in her creations a nationalistic fervour.

Her latest creation depicts the success of Chandrayaan-3, India’s latest lunar mission that successfully landed on the moon last month and she wants to present it to Modi.

“This is now my most prized possession. I will not sell it, but keep it in my home until I get an opportunity to present it to Modiji”, she said.

“Her presence at an event as significant as the G20 summit is a testament to the enduring power of art to connect people and cultures. In her simplicity, she reminds us that even in the grandeur of international politics and diplomacy, the heart and soul of a nation can be found in the hands of its artists,” the blog reads.

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