Originally, Madhubani Paintings were executed on freshly plastered mud walls, on religious occasions or weddings. Each painting was a prayer and an accompaniment to meditation. Well executed paintings were believed to be inhabited by the deities depicted in them. The colors used in these paintings were made from Natural Dyes. Today, Madhubani Paintings are made on silk, Handmade paper, cloth, canvas etc for commercial purposes. The use of chemical dyes and paints have resulted in brighter multicolored paintings.
Madhubani paintings are mostly made by Hindu village women who traditionally passed on this skill from mother to daughter.
There is a caste hierarchy involved in the making of Madhubani paintings. The Brahmins, people of the highest caste, depict images of Gods and Goddesses and use all kinds of bright colours such as red, yellow, blue and lemon. The second in the hierarchy are the Kayasthas, who paint religious themes and motifs, but use only red and black colors. The lowest caste, the Dusadhs, paint religious themes but use more of the Gondhna or Tattoo art and usually depicts flora and fauna in repetitive motifs.
Even today, most of the Madhubani artists' work remains anonymous. Few women like to mark their paintings with their names, and are quite reluctant to consider themselves individual producers of "works of art".