Madhubani art legend dead, Ambarish Dutta
Tribune News Service, Patna, December 14 2005
The legendary figure of Madhubani painting, Sita Devi, died in Madhubani yesterday. She was 92. Sita Devi was the first to bring the intricate Bharni style of Madhubani painting out of village homes and into urban drawing rooms which had fetched her the Padma Shri in 1981. She was honoured for the first time with a state award in 1969 and the national award in 1975. She was also conferred with Bihar Ratna Samman in 1984.
Born in 1914, Sita Devi’s fans included the first President, Dr Rajendra Prasad, Lal Bahadur Shastri, Indira Gandhi, Babu Jagjivan Ram and Lalit Narayan Mishra. According to here eldest son, Ram Dev, she was regarded as mother at Jitwarpur village for her social commitment. She had encouraged about 1,000 others in the village to learn the art of Madhubani painting. According to noted intellectual, N.K. Jha, against many underdeveloped villages in the state, Jitwarpur stands as an exception — courtesy Sita Devi. The approach road to the village is paved with bricks. Even roads inside the village are metalled. It was because of Sita Devi that the village first had a primary school, which was later converted into a secondary one. Ram Dev said her mother used to stay at Pragati Maidan in New Delhi and was determined to pursue issues concerning the development of the village. “Many top political leaders used to come to my mother to see the paintings and every time she would take up some issue concerning the development of the village”, he said.
Suraj Prasad of Patna,who stays near Jitwarpur, said whatever development in and around Jitwapur area had experienced in the past, all the credit should go to Sita Devi. Ram Dev, said his mother’s dream before death was that Jitwarpur should continue to promote Madhubani paintings.The Tribune Thursday, December 15, 2005, Chandigarh, India
Sita Devi, photo Edouard Boubat, 1970, in L'art du Mithila by Yves Véquaud