Naya, Pingla, West Medinipur
Since 2004, banglanatak dot com is working with the Patuas of East and West Medinipore to revive their unique traditions of Patachitra and Pater Gaan. The Patuas paint tales on long scrolls of cloth and sing them as they unfurl the scrolls. Their diverse repertoire includes mythological stories, tribal folk lore, social messages and narrations on contemporary events. Pot-Maya is an endeavor to showcase this rich oral tradition of a community skilled in translating their ideas through colourful images and soulful tunes. It is an output of banglanatak's ongoing Project Ethnomagic Going Global supported by the European Union.
Patachitra, an ancient folk art of Bengal , is appreciated by art lovers all over the world for its effortless style of drawings, colours, lines and space usage. The world Pata derived from the Sanskrit word Patta means cloth. The painters are called Patuas. Patuas do not just paint, they also sing as they unfurl the painting scroll to show it to the audience. These songs are known as Pater Gaan. The songs are of wide variety ranging from traditional mythological tales and tribal rituals to stories based on modern Indian history and contemporary issues like protecting forests and preventing spread of HIV/AIDS. Patuas generally use natural colours, which they procure from various trees, leaves, flowers and clays.
Patachitra has been mentioned in Puranas, Epics, Ancient Literatures and Historical Descriptions. The style of painting is similar to the cave paintings of Mohenjodaro, Harappa and Ajanta . ‘Patuas' and ‘Chitrakars' have been referred to in literary works dating back to more then 2500 years. Some researchers opine that ‘Patashilpa' was originally an art from of the Santhals (tribal community). It was popular among Hindu tribes like Santhals, Hos, Munda, Juangs and Kherias who painted ‘Patachitras' depicting the birth of their first ancestors Pilchu Haram and Pilchu Burhi; how they had seven sons and seven daughters and how these seven brothers were married to their sisters. With the growing influence of Buddhism, the Patuas embraced the faith. Buddhist kings and monks made extensive use of scroll paintings to preach Buddhism and during this time Patachitra probably spread to Bali, Java, Sri-Lanka , Malaysia and Tibet . With Muslim invasions, Islam spread and the Chitrakars became followers of Islam.
Since 2004, banglanatak dot com is working with 230 Patuas to rejuvenate the dying art form. The Patuas have learned to make diverse products using their painting skills. They are also using their art from as tool for social communication. The art form has become a means of livelihood. This has led to reduction of poverty and most importantly empowerment of the women in the community. The Eastern Zonal Cultural Centre (with support of Ministry of Rural Development) supported capacity building and promotional activities during 2005-2009. Today young people are learning the art from their living Gurus. Project Ethno-magic Going Global (EGG), an ongoing initiative by banglanatak dot com supported by the European Union has facilitated interaction between Patuas and Contemporary painters and new media artists from Europe . Health insurance has been provided to the artists and their families. Resource centre is being developed at Pingla.
How to reach :
By car: Reach Debra along NH6 and turn left to Balichak, drive towards Mundamari crossing - then take left road and reach Pingla.
By train: Reach Balichak from Howrah , then 20 minutes by road (Bus and Car available).
By bus: Reach Debra (Towards Kharagpur). Then Naya (Pingla) towards Moyna.
Where to stay :
There is no hotel. The chitrakars will house the visitors in their homes on request. No advance booking needed.