“A Journey from Forehead to Décor”

Small, yet powerful and integral part of Indian culture “Bindis” also known as “Tikuli” in Bihar influence the “tikuli art”. Since time immemorial bindi has been used to embellish the beauty of Indian women and these colourful dotted accessories has been the symbol of intellectual capacity of the better half of Indian population so the origin of this art form coming from the birth place of Sita is no surprise.

Tikuli Art achieved wide recognition in 1982 when India's then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi gave Tikuli art as a gift to the players of Asian Games.


Tikuli art finds its root in the Patna situated in the eastern part of India and is considered to be as old as 800 years. These paintings were the artistic expressions of women folks using their bindies to portray the local context and their daily lives. In those times its popularity was so immense, that traders from across the world use to buy these beautiful paintings as souvenir for their journey back home. Mughals were the early patrons for this art work and valued the degree of skill these artisans use to put into these artefacts. The decline of the Mughals and the advent of colonialism led to the decline of tikuli as an art form. Handcrafted goods were rapidly replaced by industrialised products.


The creation of tikuli art is a tedious process that requires a great deal of patience. Artists employ hardboards as their surface to draw on, and cut it into ornate shapes. These are coated with four or five layers of enamel. After each coat is applied, the surface is rubbed with sandpaper to give a glossy, polished effect. After applying the final layer of enamel coat, the designs are drawn on with paint, and embellished with gold foil and crystals. The brushes used are made of squirrel or sable hair, and they are of a very fine thickness. Spring and summer are the best seasons to create this form, since an optimum temperature for drying the enamel and paint is achieved. Tikuli is known for eliciting influence from forms such as the Madhubani. It becomes interesting to look at how even fine art can be so intertextual in the Indian context, much like literature.


Forms like these showcase the diversity and intricacy of Indian art to the rest of the world. The themes used mainly portray myths from the life of Krishna, as well as Indian wedding scenes and the festivals of Bihar, thus forming a visual text for the Indian context in some way. Thus, it is necessary to preserve and revive these forms from the archives of India’s cultural past.