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Patachitra/Scroll Painting of West Bengal

Arts, Painting

Patachitra/Scroll Painting of West Bengal

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This ancient art and craft of the traditional scroll painting used for story telling is known as patachitra. The Bengal patachitra is known for its depiction of stories from myth, legend, and the epics; while stories from events and happenings of the everyday are also part of their repertoire. Painted on a base of coarse cotton fabric, tussar silk and specially treated paper a rich colorful palate using natural colors is used to make the painting appear realistic and animated. This art and craft practice remains vibrant as its creative boundaries are pushed forward by the artists residing mainly in the Naya, Chandipur, Narajol and Daspur villages of West Bengal. The artists are skilled in both painting, storytelling and in treating the paper to make it strong and durable. In recent years, the makers have expanded their production to a range of products using their traditional creative motifs and designs.

This is a hereditary craft, the painters here being known as patidars rather than the generic ‘chitrakara’. The surface of the cloth is thickened with black earth, cow dung, and lac. The figure outlines are in lamp-black or red but the figures themselves are painted in vegetable colours. The figures are symbolic and bold and the style is vigorous and spontaneous. The scrolls are religious as well as social. Patidars used these scrolls for story-telling, with song and dance — in the various villages.

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