Paitkar Painting: A folk art of Eastern India

 Paitkar Painting: A folk art of Eastern India

The proposed project is going to be researched with the help of a community elder from Jharkhand area, Eastern India.

The specific cultural tradition of the community elder/artist you seek to research and document:

The specific cultural tradition of the community elder is Paitkar painting, an indigenous painting of Eastern India. It reflects many realities of day-to-day human life, legends and mythologies of society. The tribal artists in Jharkhand that have fostered the art of scroll painting which has long been used in story telling performance and also in socio-religious custom is one of the perfect example. Paitkar painting is considered one of the popular craft of Jharkhand state and also the oldest tribal painting in India. The historical lineage of the paitkar painting can be traced to the culture associated with the state of West Bengal. Now-a-days the paitkar painting is practicing in only few places. Amadubi village of Jharkhand also one of them where traditional paitkar painting is still practiced. Amadubi village is a mixture of art and traditional dances. Here families of both painters and dancers live and this makes the village different from others. Small cottages will be developed in the village for visitors who can live among the tribals and see their lifestyle and crafts. The village has 47 families that are still involved in making Paitkar paintings. It is a painting performance where the artists also transform narration into a series of sketches in the house of recent demise. The colours used by the paitkar artists are earth colour gives a look of rustic and warm.
They use a kind of handmade paper to paint this painting which is treated with soil and glue. Also they prepared the colours from natural vegetables, crushed stone. There is the ochre colour derived from a certain kind of earth/stone. At either ends of the painting, beautifully carved bamboo sticks are inserted by the artists to scroll it. Interviewing Anil Chitrakar regarding the paitkar painting, Juel narzari cited that,‘…The story telling tradition through Paitkar paintings dates back to around five centuries. It involves the depiction of tales of Indian mythology or local folklore on paper that run on a scroll. “The people sit throughout the story-telling session which involves scroll paintings and it is supported by traditional songs. These paintings give a philosophical view about life and death,” added Anil Chitrakar.’
(Juel Narzary,

The research questions that are central to your project.

My research questions are-

  1. The main focus of this project will be on the visual art text of this paitkar painting. The paitkar painting is very old tribal art of India. It has a scrolling in nature, which is very unusual in Indian tradition. It is said that they use natural colours derives from a particular kind of soil/stone. It is obtained from crushed stone, leaves of certain trees, and their beans. The artist has to travel deep into jungles to obtain this colour. Then the method of extraction is also tiresome, as they have to grind them to derive the required dyes. . For brush they use needle or goat hair. The subject of the paitkar painting is about life after death. The paitkar artist roams from house to house singing songs in melody, and finally reaches the house where someone is found death. And then he starts to narrate incidents relating to the past of the dead one with a combination of sketches, not a random piece of work but a well-defined collection, with sharply defined elements. So, there is a scope to study the visual art text (Medium, Form and Content) of this art and it will be the central focus of the research.
  2. Besides the theme of life and death, the paitkar artists also make drawings on other subject matters such as animals, birds, and plants. So, what is the use of Patkar- decorative, didactic (designed to teach a lesson) or magical?
  3. Another point that must be considered here is the relation between paitkar painting and goddess Manasa. Manasa is a Hindu goddess and Manasa puja is an act of religious devotion in India directed towards this deity Manasa. It is said that the historical lineage of the paitkar painting can be traced to the culture associated with the state of West Bengal. In other words, this painting has associations with one of the most well known goddess in Bengali household ‘Ma Manasa’. Here my research question is what religious connection does the Paitkar have?

The research and documentation methods you seek to follow.

I have not personally attended the process of Paitkar. I have collected preliminary idea about it from the community elder Mr. Amitabh Ghosh. The Data will be collected by going into the field. Accumulated data will be documented as a videograph and a report based on field visit. Essential audio visual equipments will be used in field. As a practising artist, I will also look it as an art form.

Description of what you consider important in the collaborative undertaking between you and the other community elder/ artist.

During this project period the main important of the collaboration between me and the community elder will be – (1) Entire arrangement of the paitkar painting in context (2) Collecting data about the paitkar  painting from the concern community with the help him/community elder (3)Interview with him as a community elder along with some other followers and artists.

This will help to each other to explore the art form and the content

 A monthly field work plan for a period of one year starting from November 2012 to October 2013.

  1. November: Literature review
  2. December: Visit local archive and library for secondary sources
  3. January: Meet the elder and other artists.
  4. February: Field work  and documentation
  5. March: Field work and documentation
  6. April: Field work and documentation
  7. May: Field work and documentation
  8. June: Interview based on field work
  9. July: Interview based on field work
  10. August: Assemble of data.
  11. September: Assemble of data.
  12. October: Final draft and report submission.

The proposed output and impact of the project including how the documentation can be used in teaching programmes.

The proposed output will be a Report and Vediograph based on fieldwork. This will be informative to academic study to analyse the culture of the community in general and paitkar as particular. It will be useful to all sectors of Visual based artists as well. It will be informative to Educational institute, academy, archives, Tourisms and visual artists.

It will be needed financial support to document this dying art form. Accomodation and transportation to the rural areas, honorary to folk artist, cost to technical stuff will be expected to cover by the financial support.


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