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Presentation of Patua painting, a folk art form from Bengal

The Patua (Bengalese পটুয়া paṭuẏā) are an artisan community found in the state of West Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand and Odisha in India and parts of Bangladesh. The Patua are a unique community, in that their traditional occupation is the painting and modelling of Hindu idols. Their name Patua is a corruption of the Bengali word Pota, which means an engraver. They are also widely known as Chitrakar, which literally means a scroll painter. Patuas, like the Kumars, started out in the village tradition as painters of scrolls or pats telling the popular mangal stories of the gods and goddesses. For generations, these scroll painters or patuas have gone from village to village with their scrolls or pat singing stories in return for money or food. Many come from the Midnapore of West Bengal or else from the 24 Parganas and Bhirbhum, Murshidabad also. The pats or scrolls are made of sheets of paper of equal or different sizes which are sown together and painted with ordinary poster paints. Originally they would have been painted on cloth and used to tell religious stories such as the medieval mangal poems. Today they may be used to comment on social and political issues such as the evils of cinema or the promotion of literacy. The traditional occupation of the Patua is scroll painting, image making and other decorative work. They paint pictures on coarse pieces of cloth, depicting images of Hindu gods and goddesses. These paintings are referred to as Patas (পট).

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