Painting a new future
“Naya was once a poor village, but today it is an active settlement of around 60 families of Patua – the community of scroll painters, many of whom are women. The community is called Patua and all of them have their last name as Chitrakar, meaning painter. I belong to this community of painters. Naya is now a flourishing hub of Patachitra painting and a year round cultural and tourist destination.”
Traditionally this art form was practiced by the menfolk. Men primarily painted and sang while the women helped in making colors from minerals, fruits, flowers, seeds and leaves. Women were not supposed to paint the pata themselves. All this has changed now.
At one point of time, this art form was dying as electronic media made inroads into the village community. It was tough to sell the paintings and our survival was difficult. A social enterprise www.banglanatak.com started working in our village to revive the tradition with support of the Eastern Zonal Cultural Centre in 2005. There were only around 20 painters and hardly anyone knew the songs. Veteran painters like Dukhushyam, Shyamsundar, Rani Chitrakar trained the young people on painting. Dukhushyam taught singing. Audiovisual CDs were published on our painting tradition. The lost art of the use of natural colour was revived.
Today Patachitra has become a vibrant folk media telling stories not only from epics and mythology but also on new contemporary subjects. We paint on themes like climate change, violence against women, human trafficking or events like 9/11 and tsunami. Collectors and buyers travel all the way to our village to see and buy our paintings. My village Naya has now become a most important tourist destination. The Department of Micro, Small, Medium Enterprise and Textiles is now supporting development of comprehensive infrastructure as our village has emerged as a successful Rural Craft Hub.
Art and Tourism Painting a New Future for Women, India