Patachitra : A Unique Folk Art of India
Photographs and Article by : Tania Chatterjee (EFIAP, FFIP)
Patachitra, the ethnic folk-art of India, is very colourful and it bears traditional and cultural component of country’s rich heritage. Traditionally these are religious paintings which cover themes and events mainly from Indian mythology. Patachitra painting also has a significant role in Indian history of folk-lore.
In the context of Bengal, traditional Patachitra means “those paintings, which are made by the Patuas by natural colours.” In English it means ‘Scorll Painting’. Patuas not only made Patachitra paintings, but they also sing during the exhibition of those paintings. When they display their paintings to the audience they used to sing or recite, by which they told a story related to that painting.
This type of song generally known as ‘Pater Gaan’, which are played without any modern musical instruments.
For generations these Patuas have gone from village to village with their scroll paintings and singing stories in return for money or food. Originally they would have been painted on cloth and used to tell religious stories such as the medieval mangal poems. Nowadays they also use papers for painting and comment on different social and political issues.
Many of these Patuas come from the Midnapur district of West Bengal. Naya village of Pingla Panchayet Samiti of the district of Paschim Medinipur, West Bengal is famous for Patachirta painting and popularly known as “Pater Gram”. At Pingla, the Patuas organise “Patmaya” festival each year in the month of November to promote this unique folk-art. During this time the village looks vibrant as the painters paint their huts with colourful paintings.