Nepali Times
Mighty Maithili women

The indigenous art of the Maithili people of Southern Tarai is said to date back about 3,000 years when the Aryans started settling in the region and decorating the walls of their homes with scenes from everyday life, rituals, festivals and scenes of legends of Hindu gods and goddesses.

The ancient kingdom of Mithila which comprised what is now north Bihar in India as well as the southeast part of Nepal is richly steeped in history. Its capital Janakpur was a seat of learning, a centre of spiritual and intellectual discourse and the first to make contact with oriental cultures. It is mentioned in Vedotar literature, epics and Puranas including the Satpath Brahman, Valmiki Ramayan, Mahabharat and later Upanishads.

Today it has a rich culture of its own as the centre of Mithila paintings, a naive art form beginning to gain recognition internationally.

The 13 paintings on display at the Mithila Yain Art Gallery in Thamel explode with colour, life and rich patterns. The collection represents all aspects of the art form painted by women who have had this skill passed down through the generations.

The richly patterned Aripan paintings represent the illustrations done in the earth at the front of houses to purify a space for ritual and domestic ceremonies such as puberty, conception and the sacred thread ceremony. Then there is the Kohbar (lotus) motif symbolizing female beauty and fertility intended to bring good fortune on the honeymoon night. Another shows the different incarnations of Krishna (pictured), providing a fascinating insight into Hindu culture. Then, there are the 'busy' paintings showing the daily life and work of the Maithili people.

The latter are full of detail of the comings and goings of life from planting seeds to harvesting, selling produce, beating rice, grinding grains, ploughing, cooking, collecting water, fishing and eating. They are not spiritually uplifting or particularly thought-provoking as there is no depth to them and the faces are completely devoid of any expression or emotion, simply drawn in a formulaic way. Aesthetically, the joy of these naive paintings lies in their strong use of pattern, unrefined colour and simplicity rather than subtlety.

But that is to miss the point. The fact that the figures have no mouths and the same large expressionless eyes gives the impression of a cohesive hardworking, duty-bound society rather than a collection of egocentric beings. The paintings are a fair representation of hardworking women carrying burdensome loads and often waiting on their menfolk.

Beyond that the paintings are a testament to these extraordinary women whose hands are always busy. Traditionally, women are highly suppressed in Mithila society, unable to do anything other than domestic work and not allowed to make decisions. Through their art they are finding independence.

Katy Elliott

Films for all

An eclectic range of films feature at the 6th Kathmandu Mountain Film Festival from 11-15 December. A total of 66 films have been carefully selected from an initial pool of 200 from 36 countries to be screened at Nepal Tourism Board and Rashtriya Sabha Griha.

The special selection showcases films about issues affecting mountain societies. They will be judged by Nepali film director Yadav Kharel, Indian filmmaker Ugyen Chopel and Australian mountaineer and author Brigitte Muir in the categories: international non-competitive, international competitive and Nepal panorama.

Alongside the film festival, KIMFF'08 will also feature several ancillary events including the annual Alternative Book Exhibition coordinated by Martin Chautari, a talk by Ugyen Chopel 'Reflections on my time in the Indian and Nepali Film Industry', a talk by Brigitte Muir 'Touching the sky?a woman's journey from her land of factories to the top of the world', and a 'Know Your Himal and Beyond' quiz by Nepali Times editor Kunda Dixit.

Award-winning British photographer Nick Mason will also exhibit a series of photographs on mountain porters along with photos by finalists of the photography competition organised by the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD).


Thursday 11 December
The Day After Peace 82'
Dir. Jeremy Gilley | UK 2008
The story behind International Peace Day.

4.45 PM
Yudha Chitra (Frames of War) 40'
Dir. Prem BK and Kesang Tseten | Nepal 2008
Reflections on the price of war.

Karma 90'
Dir. Tsering Rhitar Sherpa | Nepal 2007
Two nuns embark on an adventure.

Friday 12 December

Khoda 5'
Dir. Reza Dolatabadi | UK 2008
An animated psychological thriller.
Jeeba Seema (Dead Yet Alive) 44'
Dir Sanjog Laaphaa Magar | Nepal 2008
Biopic on a Magar poet.

12.30 PM
Joseph Ki Macha (Joseph's Son) 14'
Dir. Bobby Wahengbam | India 2007
A Manipuri couple search for their son.
Crying Sun: The Impact of War in the Mountains of Chechnya 26'
USA 2007
A Chechnyan village is ravaged by war.

Dream?a mess of things 25'
Dir. Raghuwar Nepal | Nepal 2006
Nepalis discuss their dreams.
Hai Dupatta 30'
Dir. Tess Joseph | India 2006
Analysing the dupatta (stole).

3.30 PM
Raga of River Narmada 12'
Dir. Rajendra Janglay | India 2007
Classical music accompanies Narmada's flow.
Changa (Kite) 28'
Dir. Pooja Gurung | Nepal 2008
Father and son try to fly a kite.

Translation Possible 11'
Dir. Susanne Horizon Fr?nzel | Germany 2007
Overcoming language barriers in Shanghai.
Malaamee (Funeral) 20'
Dir. Subarna Thapa | Nepal and France 2008
A surreal funeral.

Die Legende von Shiva und Parvati
(The Legend of Siva and Parvati) 85'
Dir. Krishna Saraswati | Germany 2008
A tale of a hippie-girl and an Indian ascetic.

Saturday 13 December
Mehendigong of Barisal at Estuary of Meghna 15'
Dir. Fuad Chowdhury | Bangladesh 2007/08
Monsoons play havoc in Bangladesh.
Beyul: Sacred Hidden Valleys of the Himalaya 30'
Dir. Tsering Rhitar Sherpa | Nepal 2008
Sherpas reflect on nature's bounty.

12.30 PM
Unity in Diversity 6'
Dir. Russ Pariseau | Nepal 2008
An inclusive Nepali women's team summits Everest.
The Eighth Summit 52'
Dir. Wayne Tindall | Australia 2005
An Australian climber's pursuit of Everest.

Autumn in the Himalayas 60'
Dir. Malgorzata Skiba | India 2008
Buddhist nuns seek an education and enlightenment.

3.30 PM
i became... 6'
Dir. Arwa Mamaji | India 2006
A child is fascinated by a balloon.
Kathputali (The Angel of the Himalayas) 51'
Dir. Toshiaki Itoh | Nepal 2008
Modernity undermines tradition in Nepal's hills.
Petrol 12'
Dir. Jiban Bhattarai | Nepal 2008
Shortage of petrol fuels a crisis.
Chaukaith (Threshold) 31'
Dir. Deepak Rauniyar | Nepal 2008
A tale of two women.

6.15 PM
Awaken Eyes 28'
Dir. Binod Paudel | Nepal 2008
A couple conjugate their marriage, finally.
Irony 23'
Dir. Fidel Devkota | Nepal 2008
A twist in a young man's faith.

Sunday 14 December
Wa Quan (Living with Shame) 25'
Dir. Huaqing Jin | China 2008
Chinese waste metal collectors pay a huge price.
Apna Aloo Bazaar Becha?from subsistence
ecology to the market 30'
Dir. Pankaj H. Gupta | India 2008
Globalisation arrives in a mountain village.

12.30 PM
Palash 20'
Dir. Sindhu Pokhrel | Nepal 2008
Physically-challenged seeks sexual fulfillment.
Sacred Mountains of the World 28'
Dir. Stipe Bozic | Croatia 2005
Philosophical reflections on mountain peaks .

"Know Your Himal and Beyond" Quiz
With Kunda Dixit

3.30 PM
Nonimi Gamana (Endless Journey) 10'
Dir. Henry Warnakulasuriya | Sri Lanka 2008
A poverty-stricken mother's dilemma.
TWISIN.....a reality not far away 35'
Dir. Prina Raj Joshi | Nepal 2008
A Newar farmer struggles against the odds.

4.45 PM
Cherub of the Mist 53'
Dir. Naresh Bedi | India 2006
Zoo-bred red pandas experience the wild.

Vintuna (All the Best) 100'
Dir. Aaryem Nakami | Nepal 2008
A Newari couple's quandary.

Monday15 December
Ghughuti Basuti (A Twinkle Behind A Closed Eye) 16'
Dir. Geetika Juyal | India 2007
A child wonders at a speck of dust.
Liu Fei De Shu Jia (Liu Fei's Summer Holidays) 15'
Dir. Huaqing Jin | China 2007
Chinese schoolgirl makes the most of summer.
Playground 21'
Dir. Eve Spence | Australia 2006
A brief, tenuous friendship between boys from different backgrounds

12.30 PM
Amma 6'
Dir. Aparna Kapur | Canada/India 2008
Grandma on my mind.
Full Cover Girl 52'
Dir. Folke Ryden | Sweden 2008
About Iraq's aspiring women politicians.

Bergschau (Mountain Life) 10'
Dir. Gerhard und Fridolin Baur | Germany 2007
Alpine life in spectacular pictures.
Twin Trek 35'
Dir. June Chua | Canada/Norway 2007
Multi-ethnic twins uncover a family secret.

3.15 PM
Jawangka Jindagiharu (Lives of Jawang) 35'
Dir. Ramesh Khadka | Nepal 2008
Portrait of a Chepang village.
Rightful Place 16'
Kenya/USA 2008
A Kenyan community stake their claim to ancestral land.

4.45 PM
The Sari Soldiers 92'
Dir. Julie Bridgham | USA/Nepal 2008
Women on the frontline of Nepal's conflict.


Thursday 11 December
The Last Nomads 54'
Dir. Andrew Gregg | Canada 2008
In search of a lost people.
Die Hochzeitsreise (The Honeymoon) 15'
Dir. Susanne Horizon Fr?nzel | Germany 2005
Love can move mountains.

5.30 PM
Chuan Yue Gao Yuan (Across the Plateau) 95'
Dir. Zhang Zeming and Paul Liu | China/ Australia 2007
Chinese cyclists take on a gruelling challenge.

Friday 12 December
Red Velvet 58'
Dir. Klaus Reisinger and Fr?d?rique Lengaigne | France 2006
Deer antlers are processed into Korean aphrodisiacs.

12.30 PM
Burma's Open Road-An Insight into Myanmar 52'
Dir. David Adams | Australia 2007
Reconstruction of an ancient road impacts Burma's people and places.

Red Gold 54'
Dir. Travis Rummel & Ben Knight | USA 2008
Alaskan fishermen vs. mining companies.

3.30 PM
Pustelnicy W Gorach (Pustelniks In The Mountain) 60'
Dir. Miroslaw Dembinski | Poland 2008
A father and his sons view life differently.

4.45 PM
Jozef Juzek Psotka ? Radest Zo Zivota
(Jozef Juzek Psotka ? Joy from Life) 26'
Dir. Pavol Barab?? | Slovakia 2008
Portrait of a Slovak mountaineer.
A Russian Wave 27'
Dir. Becky Bristow | Canada 2005
Exploring whitewater rapids in Russia.

The Linguist 65'
Dir. Seth Kramer, Daniel A. Miller and Jeremy Newberger | USA/ Bolivia/India/Siberia 2007
Scientists race to document almost extinct languages.

Saturday 13 December
Les Nomades Du Cercle Polaire
(Komi, A Journey Across The Artic) 52'
Dir. Andreas Voigt | France 2007
Reindeer herders embark on an arduous journey.

12.15 PM
Die Wetterpropheten (The Weather Prophets) 62'
Dir. Christoph Felder | Germany 2007
Weathering the odds in the Swiss Alps.

Zed Kamenog Mora (The Thirst of a Stone Sea) 79'
Dir. Vladimir Perovic | Montenegro 2007
Awaiting the inevitable onslaught of globalisation.

3.45 PM
I Want My Father Back 70'
Dir. Suma Josson | India 2007
Why cotton is killing Indian farmers.

5.30 PM
China's Stolen Children 88'
Dir. Jezza Neuman | UK 2007
Expos? on child kidnappings in China.

Sunday 14 December
Hjordeliv (Herdswoman) 58'
Dir. Kine Boman | Sweden/Sapmi (Lapland) 2008
Herding reindeer is not just a job.

12.30 PM
Pageant in Painted Scenes 59'
Dir. Merajur Rahman Baruah | India 2008
Mobile theatres in Assam fight the odds.

Talk by Brigitte Muir
Touching the sky - A woman's journey from her land of factories to the top of the world.

4.30 PM
Aconcagua Speed Flying 6'
Dir. Fran?ois Bon and Damien Dufresne | France 2008
Up and down a mountain, extreme style.
The Endless Knot 52'
Dir. Michael Brown | USA 2007
Fatal accident changes the course in a climber's life.

Red Bull X-Alps 86'
Dir. Mario Kreuzer | Germany 2007
Highs and lows of a spectacular paragliding race.

Monday 15 December
Talk by Nick Mason
Reflections of a landscape photographer

12.30 PM
No Penguin's Land 9'
Dir. Barelli Marcel | Switzerland 2008
A penguin's journey to the Swiss Alps.
The Skyrunner 30'
Dir. Niko J?ger | Germany 2008
Mountaineering at its most extreme.

1.30 PM
Des Hommes Sur La Montagne (The High Mountain Guides) 54'
Dir. Didier Hill-Derive | Belgium/France 2007
Becoming a professional guide.

Talk by Ugyen Chopel
Reflections on my time in Bollywood and Kollywood.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)