Patua Art

Patua Tribal Art

I have recently come across some Patua Art from West Bengal. See my gallery for more images.  Click more below to see video.  It is the creation of Bengali artist called Patuas.  Pata painting or Patachitra is a traditional art form characterized by religious and social motifs and imagery.  Pata is a Bangla word evolved from the Sanskrit patta meaning cloth. Art work drawn on a piece of silk or cotton or any other fabric portraying traditional motifs of religion and society is called ‘pat’ art.

As an art form pat is very ancient. Though much weakened under the impact of modernity, this form of art is still practiced by uninitiated rural artists and still in demand. As a folk art it makes an important element of Bengal cultural heritage.Though the tradition of pats or scroll paintings is today associated with Bengal, it is possible that it was more widespread in pre-modern India. The artist would carry a number of such scroll paintings from place to place, and when he arrived at a village and had an audience gathered around him, he would undo the scroll painting panel by panel, narrating or singing the story as he went along, taking perhaps as much as ten or fifteen minutes to finish his narration.


More often than not the stories were well-known to the listeners, but each patua or chitrakar, picture-maker, furnished a slightly different inflection to the tale, attaching rather more importance to some parts of the narrative. Not every scroll painting carried by an artist had been executed by him; some doubtless belonged to the family.

The pats were at one time painted on cloth but are now largely executed on hand-made paper that is stitched together with a cotton thread. The scrolls are almost always unmounted. Though synthetic dyes have been in use for some years, at one time only vegetable dyes and natural pigments were used, and a starch derived from the bel fruit was used as binding material. Scroll paintings can be as short as four feet, and as long as fifty feet, but the average length of a scroll is closer to fifteen feet.