An intricate tapestry of music and visual art is what makes “Naya” more than just a village in West Bengal’s Paschim Midnapore district.
A quaint little village, Naya is home to around 250 patuas or chitrakaars, a unique community of folk artistes who are painters, lyricists, singers and performers all rolled into one.
These traditional painter singers specialize in the ancient folk art of pata chitra, a type of narrative scroll painting.
The Patua community of West Bengal has practiced the ancient craft of patachitra since the 13th Century!
The traditional painters would wander from village to village, entertaining and educating village folks.They would unroll each hand-painted scroll, frame by frame, and sing pater gaan or narrative songs that they had composed themselves.
In return for their performance, the villagers would remunerate the hardworking artists with rice, vegetables and coins.
Today, after a period of decline, the patachitra art is flourishing again in the village, with village youngsters taking up the traditional art form as a passion and profession.
Many patuas from the village have won the President’s Award. They have also participated in exhibitions, cultural exchange programs and festivals in USA, Germany, Australia, France, Britain, Sweden, and China, as well as all over India.
Since 2010, CHITRATARU has been organizing an annual three-day festival ‘Pot Maya’ to celebrate the success of the local artists in reviving their heritage.
Held in November every year, the festival showcases modern paintings as well as scrolls dating back hundreds of years.
Watching a patua singing gently in harmony with the soft colours and delicate imagery of his work, as oil lamps create a magical play of light and shadow over the canvas, is a spellbinding experience.