Patua scroll painters of West Bengal



Patuas of West Bengal wander from village to village singing songs and explaining Hindu legends with the help of scrolls. They are a marginalized community. With the change of time, they have changed their subject of singing and drawing. It now includes Hindu myths, HIV, globalization, 9/11 and all current topics of general interest. An exhibition about Patua scroll painters of West Bengal is being held at Santa Fe, United States.

Mondomedeusah writes:

Occupying a position between Hindu and Muslim communities has long been reflected in Patua scrolls and song. Always moralistic in nature, they sang and painted about kings and sages, local folktales and beliefs, and Hindu gods and Muslim saints. With the coming of the British, their repertoire expanded to encompass revolutionary political themes.

Now in the era of globalization, Patuas are once again responding to the changing world through their art. Besides religion and local events, scrolls and songs frequently feature issues of worldwide concern, but with a local twist.

For example, in artist Manu Chitrakars version of the events of 9/11, the son of an affluent Bengali gentleman goes to New York, secures a job in the Oil Trade House (i.e., World Trade Center), and tragically dies in the conflagration along with thousands of Americans. This artist also created a sequel to this scroll about the war against the Taliban in Afghanistan.

An exhibition titled Village of Painters: Narrative Scrolls from West Bengal at the Museum of International Folk Art Santa Fe, NM, will display many examples of Patua scrolls and an audio component will allow visitors to listen to accompanying songs.