Yamuna Devi, born in Jitwapur, Bihar (1915-2011), was the first Untouchable among the Mithila women painters to receive a National Award. Yamuna Devi’s is easily recognized by her use of double lines. Each form and motif is given a double outline. The face is a recur- rent subject in Yamuna Devi’s work. It may be the only subject or inter- preted as just a motif. Rather than reducing its power, repetition of the face reinforces it through its varied nuances. The face, or faces, fills the space. The figurative motif par excellence, the face becomes an allegory of the moon or the sun. The double lines of the circle embrace other cir- cles and dots. The dynamism of the whole calls to mind the circling of the stars. The double lines are related to the kohl applied around the eyes of newborn babies by mothers in the region that Yamuna Devi was born to evoke the baby Krishna, part man, part god. This re- gion is in fact considered to have been one of the cradles of Tantrism.
Yamuna Devi with one of her great grandchildren. Photo Hervé Perdriolle Jitwapur Bihar 1997.