Manjushas are an Indian art form. They are temple-shaped boxes comprising eight pillars. They are made of bamboo, jute and paper. They also contains paintings of Hindu gods and goddesses and other characters. These boxes are used in Bishahari puja, a festival dedicated to the Snake God that is celebrated in Bhagalpur and nearby regions, India.
Manjusha art is the folk art of Ang region which is based on Folklore of Bihula-Bishari. Ang region in modern era known as Bhagalpur. It is one of the popular art form of Bihar.
Manjusha art is believed to be the only art form in the history of art form in India which has a sequential representation of the story and is displayed in a series. This is also called a scroll painting.
Manjusha art or Angika art originated in Anga Pradesh (Present Day Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal) which was used in Bihula-Vishahri Pooja, celebrated usually in August to please snake gods (Nag).
Manjusha art is a folk art of Bhagalpur, Bihar, and has been dated back to the 7th century.
Legends says that five daughters of Lord Shiva, Maina, Bhawani, Devi, Padma and Jaya known as Bishahari (meaning "person carrying poison") requested to worship earth. There request was granted by Shiva in the form of the Bishahari festival.
Manjusha art is the folk art of "Angpradesh", Ang region which is currently known as Bhagalpur in Bihar State.
This art was earlier done by only two families the Kumbhakar caste and the Malakar caste. The Kumbhakar caste used to make the pots on which the manjusa art is painted and wor- shipped during the festival. The Malakar caste makes the actual "manjushas" and paint the manjusa art on this structures.There is another caste called the Kashira caste, they used to make the pots out of "peetal"/brass. There are only two families left who still practice this art.
Earlier the Pandit family Cheddhi and Basant Pandit used to make the manjusa art for the temple, for this service all their expenses were taken care of by the village.
This art has been prevalent in Bhagalpur for a long time but between1931 -48, it was brought to the forefront. In this period during the British rule, an ICS officer by name W.G.Archer and his wife started finding out more about Madhubani painting and Manjusha art.He fell in love with the art form . W.G.Archer put a collection together of Manjusa art and had an exhibition in The India Office Library in London which became part of the Archer Collection. It was at this time that Manjusa art gained international recognition.But at that time due to the British rule the artisans could not flourish. After this golden period, Manjusa art seemed to be fading away in the background and was being practiced only by some people. In 1984 the Bihar government made an intitative called "Jansampoorna Vibagh" in which they went to the villages of Bhagalpur and showed them slideshows of Manjusa art and educated people about this traditional art form in the hope of reviving it.
After which Smt.Chakravathy Devi and Jyothi Chand Sharma came into the picture and helped revive this craft. Smt.Chakravathy Devi was one of the most traditional artisans and belonged to one of the two families who have started this art.She has worked tirelessly in reviving this craft. During the same time Smt.Nirmala Devi also started working in this field and has come to be known and honoured for her efforts to revive this craft.
In 1992, an artisan by name Mr.Manoj Pandit started experimenting with different materials and started painting on silk and other fabrics which helped take this art to the next level. From being just an art done for religious purposes, the artisans were able to use it in prod- ucts more suited to the market.
The Bihar government has been making a lot of efforts to revive this craft and many skill up-gradation training's have taken place both in Bhagalpur as well as in the nearby villages. They have made a good effort in trying to make people aware of this craft. They have taken certain moves like it is mandatory that all the Zilla Parishad banks have to have a Manjusa art painting hanging in their banks, which automatically provides the artisans with some kind of market.Recently the Bihar government has put together a committee which comprises 11 people out of which 4 artisans will be present to apply for a patent for the Manjusa art form. They are planning to patent it as a Bhagalpur folk art.
Manjusha Art is and ancient and historically significant art form, considered on a par with Madhubani art. Manjusha Art or Manjusha Kala is often referred to as Snake Paintings by foreigners as swirling snakes in the art depict the central character Bihula's tale of love and sacrifice. A recent study on Manjusha Art  provides an excellent example of how this art reflects the history of ancient Anga Mahajanapada.
Characteristic of Manjusha Art
- Three colors are used in Manjusha Art
- In Manjusha Art Borders are very Important.
- Manjusha Art is a Line drawing Art.
- Manjusha Art is a Folk Art.
- Manjusha Art is a Scroll Painting.
- Manjusha Art is completely based on folklore of Bihula-Bishari.
- In Manjusha Art Characters are displayed as X letter of English Alphabets.
- Major Motifs of Manjusha Art – Snake, Champa Flower, Sun, Moon, Elephant, Turtle, Fish, Maina Bird, Kamal Flower, Kalash Pot, Arrow Bow, ShivLing, Tree etc.
- Major Characters of Manjusha Art – Lord Shiva, Mansa DeVi (Bishari), Bihula, Bala, Hanuman, Chandu Saudagar
- Borders in Manjusha Art – Belpatr, Lehariya, Triangle, Mokha and series of Snakes.
Artists and awards
- First time in 2012, Late Chakravarty Devi awarded with SITA DEVI AWARD in the field of Manjusha Art.
- In 2013, Shrimati Nirmala Devi awarded with Bihar Kala Award "SITA DEVI AWARD".
- In the field of Manjusha Art, First State Award given to Shri Manoj Pandit for his work towards revival of indigenous art form "Manjusha Art". This award is given by Upendra Maharathi Shilp Anusandhan Sansthan & Dept. of Industries, Bihar.
- On Recommendation of Art, culture and youth affairs department, Bihar; Ministry of Culture (Sanskriti Mantralaya) awarded ‘Manjusha Kala Guru Award’ to Shri Manoj Pandit in 2014.
- In 2016 - Ulupi Jha is one of the100 successful women across the country selected by the Union ministry of women and child development on the basis of online voting for her Manjusha painting.
- "Angika Art".
- "The Internationally recognised famous Indian Art related to Ang region".
- Sinha, Rajiva Kumar; Pandey, O.P. "Manjusha Art: Reflections in Folk Lore, Trade and Regional History". Delhi: Shivalik Prakashan. OCLC 811492081.
Manjushakala.in - Initiative for promotion of Manjusha Art
- Kossak , Steven (1997). Indian court painting, 16th-19th century.. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art. ISBN 0870997831. (see index: p. 148-152)
- Rajiva Kumar Sinha , OP Pandey (2012). Manjusha Art: Reflections in Folk Lore, Trade & Regional History. Delhi: Shivalik Prakashan. ISBN 8188808881.