kiskiKAHANI (the Ramayana Project)

300 Ramayanas and Counting . . .
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Singing Pictures

Posted on by Imran

The tradition of singing pictures, passed on down the generations, survives largely in the villages of Medinipur and Birbhum and adjoining districts. Since pata chitra is not static but performing pictures, it has an audio visual impact on its audience. And so, even if scroll painting has lost out to the growing influence of cinema and television in urban areas, for the rural population of these interior villages it is still a popular form of entertainment. The content of the paintings or ‘picturisation’ of subjects is akin to cinema.  

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Singing Pictures

Posted on by Imran

Down the ages, the Ramayana has retained its distinct ethnic flavour in the rural backyards of West Bengal. One of the oldest forms of the ancient epic is traditional scroll art. This oral tradition of folk art rendered by a community of itinerant painters, or chitrakars, is a complete performance in itself. The episodes, steeped in colour, drama and earthy fervour are recounted through rolled out paintings in long scrolls called pata chitra, in tandem with the corresponding pata gaan or repertoire sung by patua artistes. Although the artistes have largely retained the conventional interpretation of the Ramayana, they exercise their own rationale in their depiction of the protagonists. This is especially evident with the women painters and their unmistakable empathy for Sita. The tradition of singing pictures, passed on down the generations, survives largely in the villages of Medinipur and Birbhum and adjoining districts. Since pata chitra is not static but performing pictures, it has an audio visual impact on its audience. And so, even if scroll painting has lost out to the growing influence of cinema and television in urban areas, for the rural population of these interior villages it is still a popular form of entertainment. The content of the paintings or ‘picturisation’ of subjects is akin to cinema. The Ramayana occupies centrestage in choice of subject for the patua artists of Medinipur, largely due to its dramatic value. According to tradition here, the epic is broadly … Continue reading

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