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Meet Remant Kumar Mishra, the Madhubani artist also known as the ‘mask man’ of Bihar

Practical art: Remant Kumar Mishra and, right, a sample of his art.   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

When the full impact of the COVID-19 pandemic hit India in March, noted Madhubani artist Remant Kumar Mishra, 37, decided to turn adversity into an opportunity. Now going by a new sobriquet of Bihar’s “mask man”, Mr. Mishra despatches masks with hand-painted Madhubani motifs all over India.

Hailing from the Jitwarpur village under the Rahika block of Madhubani district in north Bihar, on March 9, Mr. Mishra distributed 650 masks with Madhubani (also known as Mithila painting) motifs among district officials and his acquaintances, seeking their feedback.

“They appreciated my effort as the masks are not only comfortable to wear but also look ethnic and trendy,” Mr. Mishra, who has been a Madhubani artist from the age of 10, told The Hindu over phone. His grandmother, mother, wife and other family members also paint in the Madhubani style. “In every household here you can find a Mithila painting artist,” he said.

Ranti under the Rajnagar block is another hub for this craft tradition. Mythological characters, and aspects of nature are central motifs in this style of painting, originally rendered only with fingers and natural colours. “But now we use brushes, nib-pens and synthetic colours as well to paint Mithila art,” said Mr. Mishra.

Widespread acclaim

A widely travelled man, Mr. Mishra has been to China four times, and has also visited Sri Lanka, Italy and Mauritius as a participant in craft festivals. In India, he has been conferred with several awards by the state. His masterful paintings adorn walls at the Power Grid Corporation Limited; the Central Bank of India’s Officers Training Colleges in Kolkata and Bhopal; and the Government Guest House in Madhubani.

Meet Remant Kumar Mishra, the Madhubani artist also known as the ‘mask man’ of Bihar

His phone has been ringing constantly with orders after his masks went viral on social media. “I heard that social activist and writer Advaita Kala tweeted about my masks, which helped other people all over the country find out about them. I am thankful to her,” he said, adding that he now engages nearly 300 villagers, including 15 tailors from his locality, in preparing masks.

He has been receiving orders over phone or WhatsApp from Chennai, Bengaluru, Delhi, and from other parts of the country, including Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Chhatisgarh. Leader of Opposition in the State Assembly Tejashwi Yadav and others have been seen sporting masks with Mithila art.

₹50 apiece

In the past three months, Mr. Mishra said, he had sent over 14,000 masks by courier or India Post in sanitised packages on a first come-first served basis. He charges ₹50 apiece for his three-layered cotton masks featuring Madhubani motifs. “We also have masks with catchy slogans like ‘go corona’, ‘namaste karna hai, haath nahi milana hai’ (‘greet greet each other with folded hands, don’t shake hands’),” he said.

He orders his cotton fabric from Warangal in Telangana. “I am quite particular about choosing the right fabric. My first priority is the safety and satisfaction of my customers,” the artist said. He can be reached 8789183527 and 9899429912.

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Printable version | Oct 16, 2021 9:40:44 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/meet-remant-kumar-mishra-the-madhubani-artist-also-known-as-the-mask-man-of-bihar/article32163974.ece

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