Patua Painting

Patua Painting: The Patua or Chitrakar are a clan by themselves once found across the districts of Midnapur (now split into two), Birbhum, Bankura and South 24 Parganas in West Bengal. Essentially artists, they prepared the painted ‘pata’ (pronounced as ‘pot’) or square-shaped paintings. Although little is known about the origin of the ‘pata’, it is believed that the word originated from the Sanskrit word ‘patta’ meaning cloth. The pata would be made of specially treated stiffened pieces of cloth and painted with natural dyes. One section of these artists, who doubled up story tellers, would make a long scroll divided into many frames depicting scenes from the narrative. These scrolls could be folded up and thus called ‘jorano pata’. In fair weather, especially during festive season, they would travel from village to village, with their portable scrolls. In front of a suitable gathering, they would unfold the long scrolls, frame by frame, and narrate the stories painted on them. In ancient times, tales from religious texts, epic poems and mythologies, formed the bulk of the narratives. Later, they would draw upon contemporary events too to spice up their repertoire.

Not only as traditional painters or narrators of tales, these patua or chitrakar have a unique identity too that speak volumes about India’s religious tolerance. Although the patua or chitrakara paints and narrates stories about Hindu gods and goddesses, they are Muslim by religion. But neither the patua nor their audience have had any problem with that. In fact, during Hindu religious or social functions, they would be invited to perform. Source: Outlook India