Art & a story
Patachitra is Bengal’s traditional art of scroll painting, still largely done with natural colours. Patuas or chitrakars are a community of folk artists who are painters, lyricists and singers all rolled into one. While their paintings are called patachitra, the songs they sing that narrate the stories on the scrolls are called poter gaan. This vibrant and colourful oral-visual art form dates back to the 13th century.
Banglanatak.com, a social enterprise which works with traditional artistes has organised the chitrakars, helped them make their artwork contemporary, found them markets and boosted their income. Pingla village in West Midnapore is the best-known patachitra hub. Incomes of the chitrakars living in Pingla have increased to Rs 30,000- Rs 40,000 per month. In the old days, the chitrakars painted scrolls on traditional themes like tales from the Ramayana and Dashavatar (the 10 incarnations of the Hindu god Vishnu) and of Muslim saints. Now they produce their artwork on a range of products — coasters, bottles, saris, T-shirts and more. Patachitra is also being used by the government for social awareness campaigns.